IT'S great to be back playing for Ireland on home soil again and the boys are really looking forward to taking on the Sri Lankans.
We have never beaten a Full Member nation in Dublin but we are more than capable of winning at least one of the games in Malahide this week, it's a great opportunity.
We had a great chance against Australia a few years ago in Clontarf, when we restricted them to 230 and were 80-0 off 10 overs so we were in a great position but couldn't see it through. But we are playing against really good sides and in the past they would have taken us lightly, but they know what they are up against now and they don't take us for granted.
But I feel this is our best chance to get a victory. Sri Lanka are rebuilding after the retirement of Sangakkara and Jayawardena, Dilshan and Herath are also missing, so that's four big players they have lost and Malinga hasn't been playing much recently, so it's quite a big blow for them. Hopefully we can expose that inexperience. There are quite a few of our lads who have played a lot of one-day cricket so hopefully we can put that to good use. I have been watching the Test series against England really closely and if we can play to our best we have a great chance.
We didn't show our best at the World Twenty20 in March but the 50 overs game is a completely different format and I think it is more suited to us.
I've been playing it for the last couple of weeks for Warwickshire and it is evolving. A total of 300 is pretty easy on a good pitch and this season there are teams who have scored 400. The batters have that more time to settle in, get off to a good start, keep wickets in hand and go big at the back end of the innings. In terms of the bowling it is all about bowling your best ball for the first 40 overs and finishing well. And that is different from T20s where you are under the pump from ball one.
We will be without Niall O'Brien who is one of our best batsmen in this format, I was actually bowling to him in our game against Leicestershire when his injury happened last week.
He played a ball off his hips, took off for a single and went down as if a sniper had taken him out. He was able to get up and hobble to the other end – we actually could have run him out but it was hardly in the spirit of the game! - and he retired immediately anyway. He was in a lot of pain
It's really unfortunate he misses these games as he has played a lot for Ireland and it's hard on him but it gives another guy a great opportunity to step up. Niall's not going to be around for ever and gives the younger lads a chance to show what they can do.
For me, it's been a frustrating season so far as I have picked up a few niggles. I missed the Middlesex game at Lord's with an abdominal strain and the Durham game with a back spasm, so it's been a bit stop start. I had a few injections in my back to settle it down last year but it can flare up at any time and it's unfortunate that it has recurred over the last few weeks. At least it's only ruling me out for a week at a time rather than a couple of months. There's a lot of championship cricket coming up after this week's ODIs, starting against Lancashire on Monday.
I was rested for the Notts game last Wednesday, but I started the one-day games with Warwickshire, away to Lancs and home to Leicestershire and managed to pick up six wickets, so feel reasonably good with the white ball. I'm happy with how I've bowled this season and it would have been better again if I'd bowled non-stop because you get a bit of rhythm and then you lose it and you have to start again. But I don't really feel I've lost a lot of rhythm during that time and am really looking forward to these games coming up.
This will actually be my first game for Ireland at Malahide. I made my ODI debut for England there three years ago but that's my only one since a few underage games. It's a really nice ground, hopefully we can get a decent crowd in. The wickets have been good and there was decent bounce in 2013 and I was lucky enough to get four wickets. The weather has been good recently so hopefully the pitch will be hard and looking forward to be back playing for Ireland on home soil again. It's been four years, a long time!
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