Johnston keen to return to scene of success

Sun, Jan 31, 2010 11:44 AM

Johnston keen to return to scene of success
Ireland star Trent Johnston has revealed that he desperately wants his side to be successful at the ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier so it can return to the scene of some of its greatest cricketing moments.

Johnston captained the Irish side at the ICC Cricket World Cup 2007 where it stunned the cricketing world in the Caribbean by defeating Pakistan and Bangladesh, as well as earning a thrilling tie against Zimbabwe.

And Johnston will want his side to claim one of the two qualifying places on offer next month in order to return to the Caribbean in April for the ICC World Twenty20 2010.

"We have great memories of playing in the West Indies and it is where it all happened for us as players and for Cricket Ireland," said Johnston.

" I am pretty sure that the Caribbean people will still remember what we achieved over those seven weeks and hopefully will be going for us again. I hope we can pick up where we left off in April 2007."

Johnston?s side first needs to make it through a tough qualifying event, which is being held in Abu Dhabi and Dubai between 9-13 February. It faces Afghanistan, who Ireland lost to in the ICC Intercontinental Cup on Sunday, as well as Scotland and USA in Group A of the qualifier, but the former captain is extremely determined to secure a second successive ICC World Twenty20 appearance even though he knows it will be a tough task.

"It is probably our number one goal this year, other than obviously doing well in the ICC World Twenty20 in the West Indies, so it is a huge thing on our radar. We are very focused on achieving that goal," he said.

"I think it will be a great achievement to qualify. We are the number one Associate team and have been that for some time and everybody wants to knock us off. Twenty20 cricket can come down to two or three balls so we need to be focused for all 120 balls in an innings otherwise you can find yourself being knocked our pretty easily.

"We are fully aware of that and we know we have some tough opposition in USA, Afghanistan and Scotland just to get through to the next stage. We know it is going to be tough but we have the quality to qualify."

Despite missing Jeremy Bray and Kyle McCallan, who have now retired, as well as Regan West, who is injured, Johnston believes the current side is capable of matching the achievements of the 2007 squad.

"Comparing the sides is a question that I get asked a lot. I think that the guys are a bit more mature and William Porterfield is now in charge, while he was just establishing himself in the team back then. He has come along leaps and bounds in that time," said Johnston.

"Boyd (Rankin) has matured quite a bit in the past few seasons and has done well against international teams.

"There are still a few of us old heads making important contributions and overall I think the teams are pretty similar. We are stronger in some areas and weaker in others, so I think it balances itself out."

Johnston is also looking forward to returning to the UAE, where the Irish spent two days in January in preparation for its current tour of Sri Lanka.

"There are first-class facilities in the UAE and when we were there for two days earlier in the month everything was perfect and the red carpet was laid out for us wherever we went," he said.

"The training facilities were first-class and we really have to thank UAE Cricket for that. The people in Abu Dhabi were great and we know conditions will be nice and warm.

"It is a great place to play cricket and there are great facilities and it is going to be an exciting week of cricket."

Admission to all matches is free, with the top two sides at the qualifying event earning the right to play at the ICC World Twenty20 2010. The eight competing teams are Afghanistan, Canada, Ireland, Kenya, Netherlands, Scotland, UAE and USA.

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