Ireland may have made a storming start to the World Cup with last Monday’s brilliant four-wicket win over the West Indies in New Zealand, but their preparations for their second outing could be upset due to poor weather in their new Australian base.
A nine-day gap between the game in Nelson and the Pool B outing against the United Arab Emirates at The Gabba in Brisbane saw Ireland’s squad given a few days of r&r to spend on the Gold Coast beaches.
Those plans were blown off course due to the impending arrival of cyclone Marcia, which is due to hit the Queensland coast as a category two storm early on Friday morning.
All Gold Coast beaches will be closed on Thursday, with the Australian Bureau of Meteorology warning of winds of up to 150km/h and rainfall of between eight and 20 inches.
The cyclone will have moved through long before Ireland’s encounter against the UAE next Wednesday, although Australia’s Pool A match against Bangladesh at The Gabba on Saturday afternoon could be affected.
Ireland coach Phil Simmons was already wary of the long gap between games and has highlighted the coming days as key in getting the intensity back up to the level it was leading into the West Indies game.
Ireland have enjoyed complete domination over the UAE in modern times, having not lost to them since the disastrous World Cup qualifier in Toronto back in 2001.
Warning of the danger of complacency, Simmons said: “The next five days are the most dangerous in the whole of this tournament because we know them well, guys maybe take their eyes off the ball and say ‘well look, it’s the UAE’, so the next five days are going to be very, very tough.
“We have to make sure we get back up to that level where we were the day before the West Indies game.”
The confidence garnered from chasing down over 300 runs to beat the West Indies for the first time in a One-Day International has flowed through the side, according to Kevin O’Brien, and the all-rounder is keen that there’s no drop-off in levels now that the tournament is in full swing.
“I think we completely outplayed the West Indies, we outfielded them, that was easy to see. I think we stuck to our bowling plans a lot better than they did and I think our batting was well and truly above theirs.
“It was a great starting point for us in the tournament and we’re looking forward to the next game against the UAE.
“The objective coming here to the World Cup was to win six games in the group stages. We know we’ve got the talent in the team and the self-belief within the squad that we can go deep into the tournament. The first win was always the crucial one and we’ve started the tournament on the right foot and we’re looking forward to Wednesday’s game.”
Meanwhile, Eoin Morgan will miss the One-Day International against former side Ireland at Malahide on Friday, May 8th after being allowed to play the full Indian Premier League season.
The Dubliner captained the side the last two times England have been here, making a match-winning 124 not out in the six-wicket win in front of a sell-out 10,000 crowd in Malahide in September 2013.
Ravi Bopara, who made an unbeaten 101 and shared an unbeaten 226-run with Morgan in the game, will also miss out after joining Morgan at Sunrisers Hyderabad, along with former England star Kevin Pietersen.
Morgan has been struggling with his form of late and the England captain was forced to justify the decision to allow him to put his IPL commitments before England duty ahead of their vital Pool A meeting with New Zealand in Wellington.
“Yeah, that means I won’t go to Ireland,” Morgan said. “The chairman of selectors and the director of cricket have allowed the guys who have got picked up in the IPL, or went into the auction, to miss that Ireland game in order to expose themselves to opportunities in the IPL in order to learn more about their game and excel in their game.”