The Ireland cricket women's team have arrived in Bangladesh for their first ever ICC Women’s World Twenty20 tournament that begins in Sylhet next week and Head Coach Trent Johnston is hoping for his youthful squad to make a big impression.
The former Ireland Captain became Head Coach of the women's team following his retirement from international cricket in December, and has already seen his young charges beat Pakistan in a Twenty20 encounter in Qatar at the international tournament there in January.
Johnston said on the eve of the team’s departure this week that their experiences in Qatar will play to their advantage in Bangladesh. "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 and I think that we’re a much better team now six weeks down the line.”
The squad has been working very hard in the build up to the tournament here in Ireland and Johnston paid tribute to the work ethic from the squad,
"The ladies commitment to training has been first-class, I couldn’t have asked any more from that point of view and we’ve been training five, six even seven days a week," he added.
Ireland captain Isobel Joyce was only 17 years old when she played in the 50 Over Women’s World Cup in New Zealand in 2000.
Fourteen years on and Joyce captains the Ireland Women’s squad and feels everyone is very well prepared for the challenges ahead in Bangladesh.
"I think it’s a much bigger occasion now than it would have been then, I think we’re well prepared and we certainly couldn’t fit any more training into the past six or seven weeks."
She also spoke of the squad’s aims for the tournament. "The aim is to get into the second phase, which means we have to win two matches probably 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."
The side played their first warm up match this morning in Savar, outside Dhaka and came up 49 runs short against Sri Lanka but gained valuable experience of the local conditions with temperatures tipping 36 degrees.
Sri Lanka Women batted first with Ireland’s bowlers only able to collect two wickets in the 20 over innings, with Isobel Joyce and Elena Tice’s spin claiming a wicket each. There were unbeaten fifties for Siriwardene and Rasangika as Sri Lanka posted 170 runs as they gave seven batters a chance with 3 players retiring.
Ireland Women batted their 20 overs in response to post 121 runs, Cecelia Joyce top scored for Ireland with 44 before she retired to give others some time in the middle. Melisssa Scott-Hayward scored quickly for her 22 whilst Isobel Joyce, Elena Tice and Eimear Richardson all made double figures.
Next up for Ireland Women is another warm-up match, this time against India before facing into the tournament proper with their Group A fixtures starting against New Zealand next week.