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Ireland targetting World Cup Quarterfinals

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phil_s_and_kyle_m.jpgIreland's cricket coach Phil Simmons says he will be disappointed if his side does not make the last eight of the T20 World Cup, being staged in England in just over a week's time. The former West Indian international was speaking at a news conference at the Stormont ground on Monday as his players prepared to leave for a series of warm-up games and an intensive training camp before the tournament get under way at Trent Bridge, Nottingham, on Monday, June 8.

Their first game at Trent Bridge will be against Bangladesh followed two days later against a very powerful Indian line-up (read more) which contains plenty of stars from the recently concluded Indian Premier League. A win in either game would almost certainly take Ireland into the quarter finals.

Simmons says : "Obviously our best chance lies in the game against Bangladesh but the beauty of Twenty20 cricket is its unpredictability. We will be going into the warm up games and the tournament in confident mood."

Surrounded by the players who clinched a remarkable win over Worcestershire in the Friends Provident Trophy last week - they bowled the English county out for just 58 - Simmons said : "The win against Worcestershire was exactly what we needed in our last competitive game before the Twenty20. It was also achieved without our top county players which says a lot for the depth of the squad. We will, of course, have everyone available and I'll be very disappointed if we don't make our mark."

Ireland stunned the cricketing world two years ago when they reached the last eight of the World Cup in the West Indies.

Vice captain Kyle McCallan was also confident the side would acquit themselves well: "We're relishing the opportunity to showcase Irish cricket on the world stage again. The 2007 World Cup in the West Indies was a fabulous experience for all concerned, and I'm sure it'll be the same again in England. It'll be a wonderful experience playing in front of sell out crowds, and I'm sure there will be plenty of Irish supporters adding to what I'm sure will be an incredible atmosphere."

McCallan added "I know just how much all the guys are looking forward to it, and if we play to our capabilities, we have a genuine chance of progression. We're well prepared and have already played a lot of cricket this year. The conditions in England will be more familiar to our players than our opposition, so that's obviously a big advantage to us."

Ireland will be taking on New Zealand in a Twenty20 game at the Derbyshire County Ground on Wednesday 27th May, before moving on to a training camp at Wormsley , where they will face a PCA Masters XI and the West Indies in practice games. The squad will then face The Netherlands, and the West Indies again in warm up games at Lord's and The Oval.

Ireland will be at full strength apart from the unfortunate loss of star batsman Eoin Morgan who has been selected for the England Twenty20 squad.

The Ireland squad is as follows:
William Porterfield (Captain) (Gloucestershire), Andre Botha (North County), Jeremy Bray (The Hills), Peter Connell (North Down), Alex Cusack (Clontarf), Trent Johnston (Railway Union), Kyle McCallan (Waringstown), John Mooney (North County), Kevin O'Brien (Railway Union), Niall O'Brien (Northants) (w/k), Boyd Rankin (Warwickshire), Paul Stirling (Carrickfergus), Regan West (Civil Service North), Andrew White (Instonians), Gary Wilson (Surrey)

Photo credit John Boomer CricketEurope

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