THE shock exit of the men to the flaying Dutchmen leaves just one group of Irish cricketers to carry the flag in Bangladesh.

The women's team goes into action tomorrow in the same Sylhet Divisional Stadium where the dreams of William Porterfield's team were butchered by the Netherlands.

And coach Trent Johnston is upbeat about the side's first appearance in an ICC World Twenty20.

"Everyone's fit and firing", the former Ireland all-rounder told the Irish Daily Star from Bangladesh last night.

"We aim to win every game," he insists. "If we can do the basics right you never know what can happen in twenty20."

While four wins over New Zealand, Australia, South Africa and Pakistan would be an unbelievable scenario, Johnston has brought the self-belief and willingness to back himself from his playing days into his new job.

The side has prepared well, with five sessions a week upped to daily work-outs in the run up to the event. A triangular tournament in Qatar in January also gave them great experience.

"It's only two months ago that we beat Pakistan in Qatar and we were very close to beating South Africa in one of the T20 games," says Johnston. "And I think that we're a much better team now six weeks down the line.

Ireland lost two warm-ups in Dhaka against Sri Lanka and India, but scored 120+ in each game and the margins were closer than ever before. Veteran bats Clare Shillington and Cecelia Joyce have already shown their class with rapid scores of 47 and 44, while Elena Tice, Isobel Joyce and Melissa Scott-Hayward are also batting well.

Women's Twenty20 is a different game to the men's version however, with six hitting much less frequent.

"We've just been to see Australia play New Zealand", Johnston said, "And it was all about bowling straight, hitting the ball hard along the ground and working the angles."

Captain Isobel Joyce was just as positive as her coach.

"The aim is to get into the second phase, which means we have to win two matches. So the goal is to get in the games early and with Twenty20 being a funny game you just never know what is going to happen."


Star pick

Elena Tice is just 16 but is already one of Ireland's key players. First capped as a 13-year-old leg-spinner, she has improved her batting to move up from No.11 to No.4 in the order. Bowling could be vital to Ireland's efforts, and impressed in conceding just one run in the 20th over against India.



Ireland v New Zealand, Sylhet, 25 March
Ireland v Australia, Sylhet, 27 March
Ireland v South Africa, Sylhet, 29 March
Ireland v Pakistan, Sylhet, 31 March

Play-offs and final, 2-6 April



Isobel Joyce (capt, Merrion), Laura Delany, Amy Kenealy, Eimear Richardson, Rebecca Rolfe (Leinster), Emma Flanagan, Jennifer Gray, Lucy O'Reilly, Clare Shillington (YMCA), Cecelia Joyce, Kate McKenna, Elena Tice, Melissa Scott-Hayward (Merrion), Louise McCarthy (Pembroke), Mary Waldron (Malahide)