Irish secure losing bonus of cup clash with England
There was a silver lining for Ireland after losing the final of the Twenty20 World Cup qualifiers to Afghanistan in Dubai-the chance to play both England and hosts West Indies in the group stage of the tournament proper, which starts on April 30.
Had Ireland overcome an Afghan side that is fast becoming their nemesis - instead of losing by eight wickets on Saturday -the much tougher prospect of facing India and South Africa would have awaited.
While the West Indies are powerful at the shorter game and will be on home ground in Guyana, they can be inconsistent and England are notoriously flaky as they showed in losing to The Netherlands in the opening match of the 2009 T20 World Cup.
Ireland captain William Porterfield said: “It's never going to be easy playing against two such fantastic teams but on paper some might say it's the easier of the two groups to get through. We spent a couple of weeks in Guyana during the 2007 World Cup and have many friends there. It's going to be great for us to be going back the Caribbean because the people over there love their cricket and create a real atmosphere at matches.”
Meanwhile, Ireland claimed one outright winner at the five-day qualifiers with Clontarf all-rounder Alex Cusack being named overall Player of theTournament.
It was Cusack's three wickets that helped Ireland to a crucial Super Four victory over the UAE on friday and he followed up with a top score of 65 that was the difference between the teams as Ireland won what was effectively a semi-final against The Netherlands a day later.
Coach Phil Simmons said: “Alex definitely deserved the award. He was Man-of-the-Match in two games for us and it was his innings (against The Netherlands) that made sure we qualified.
“William Porterfield and Niall O'Brien also had good tournaments, getting us off to a fast start most times - and the bowlers did exceptionally well.”