The Netherlands and Ireland Women's teams embark on a two week tour to Sri Lanka this weekend in partnership with the European Development Programme.

The previous ICC European Women's Academy has this year been replaced by a 5-day coaching programme, 18-22 April, preceding an 8-day Quadrangular Series also involving Sri Lanka and Pakistan; 23-29 April. All four teams will be based in Colombo during the tour.

ICC Europe has been working closely with Sri Lanka Cricket to organise the Quadrangular Series that will best prepare both Netherlands and Ireland for the ICC Women's World Cup Qualifier and to compete against two full member opponents in the sub-continent.

The training programme, which is to be managed by Philip Hudson, ICC Regional Performance Officer, will involve a three-strong coaching team from ICC Europe supporting the Ireland and Netherlands Women's teams and their national coaches. The high profile coaching team includes two former England A players Simon Francis and Kelly Evenson.

It will consist of centre wicket and net practices focused primarily on batting against spin; local cricketers will be acting as bowlers to aid both sets of players in acclimatising to sub-continent pitches and conditions. Developing the standard of fielding is also key objective of the programme. Selected players will undertake a media training session including learning key media skills, to prepare them for future regional and global cricket tournaments.

The trip has been made possible through funding from the European Development Programme and a women's grant from ICC, all contributing to the funding of Cricket Ireland and the KNCB in order for their national teams to be as best prepared for the ICC Women's World Cup Qualifier in Bangladesh, at the end of this year.

ICC Regional Development Manager, Richard Holdsworth is absolutely thrilled for the prospect of this event: 'For Women's cricket in Europe this is the biggest event t that has ever taken place. It will be a fantastic opportunity for all the players and management to compete against full member nations and sample Asian conditions in preparation for the end of the year.

'The development of women's cricket in Europe is improving each year, with healthy participation figures, this series is just evidence of what can be achieved with a lot of hard work,' concludes Holdsworth.

Ireland and Netherlands will both play three ODIs and three T20I's each in the series.

Ireland National Women's Coach, Stephen Moreton is very pleased that the team will be travelling to Sri Lanka to improve Ireland's chance for the Women's World Cup Qualifier. 'It's a massive benefit to our preparations, as we will be facing similar conditions in November, when it really counts,' said Moreton.

Netherlands Captain, Helmein Rambaldo is pinpointing the sub-continent conditions as a key learning for this trip. 'By having the tour to Sri Lanka, we are firstly getting the opportunity to get used to conditions in Asia and by playing the teams ranked above us, it will be a good challenge to see where we are at the moment and what we still need to work on till the tournament in Bangladesh,' says Rambaldo.

Ireland and Netherlands will both play three ODIs and three T20s each in the series.

Ireland Squad
Ciara Metcalfe, Clare Shillington, Amy Kenealy, Eimear Richardson, Rebecca Rolfe, Laura Delany, Shauna Kavanagh, Louise McCarthy, Kimberley Garth, Julie van der Flier, Emma Flanagan, Laura Cullen, Aisling Gill

Netherlands squad
Helmien Rambaldo, Violet Wattenberg, Marloes Braat, Laura Brewer, Christine Erkelens, Evelien Gerrits, Carlos de Groot, Denise Hannema, Jolette Hartenhof, Esther de Lange, Esther Lanser, Mol Alarda, Marijn Nijman, Miranda Meier