Simmons sets Super Eight target

ICC World Twenty20 2009

Phil Simmons

Phil Simmons believes the impending arrival of players contracted to English counties can only improve Irish hopes

Ireland coach Phil Simmons admits he would be “very disappointed” if his team do not make the Super Eight stage of the World Twenty20.

The Irish will be missing only Eoin Morgan, who has been called up by England, from their first choice line-up as they look to repeat the feat of two years ago when they reached the last eight of the World Cup in the Caribbean.

And Simmons’ side will be further buoyed heading into next month’s tournament in England by a comprehensive win over Worcestershire in the Friends Provident Trophy last week - they dismissed the English county for just 58.

“The win against Worcestershire was exactly what we needed in our last competitive game before the Twenty20,” said Simmons, the former West Indies all-rounder.

“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 begin their Group A campaign against Bangladesh at Trent Bridge on June 8 before facing India at the same ground two days later.

“Obviously our best chance lies in the game against Bangladesh but the beauty of Twenty20 cricket is its unpredictability,” Simmons said.

“We will be going into the warm-up games and the tournament in confident mood.”

England take on New Zealand in a Twenty20 game at Derby on May 27 before further warm-up games against the Netherlands at Lord’s (June 1) and West Indies at the Brit Oval (June 2).

Like Simmons, vice-captain Kyle McCallan is also in confident mood.

“We’re relishing the opportunity to showcase Irish cricket on the world stage again,” said the 33-year-old.

“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.

“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.”

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