Ireland hit by Botha injury blow
Ireland all-rounder Andre Botha will miss tomorrow’s RSA Challenge one-day international at Clontarf with a suspected stress fracture of his back.
The 34 year old’s absence is a big blow to Ireland’s chances against the world champions. Ireland coach Phil Simmons said: “We think he picked it up in the three-day game with Sussex last week. He’s been for a scan and saw the specialist this morning. I’ll know more after I talk with our physio, but he’s definitely out of the match tomorrow.
“I haven’t called anyone in, as there are some of the Ireland A and national players down with us at training, and can be here at a moment’s notice.
The news is better with regard to Niall O’Brien (finger injury), who Simmons confirmed would keep wicket tomorrow.
Simmons talked about the progression Irish cricket has made in his time. “The big difference between when I took over in 2007 and now is the amount of kids playing the game. We are now putting a proper base and structure in place with our Cricket Operation Director Mark Garaway and we’ll reap the benefits of that with players coming through.
Did Simmons believe his side had a genuine chance of victory? “You always believe you can win. If we play to the best of our ability and they slip up, we have a chance. It’s only a two-horse race after all.”
For Ireland captain William Porterfield, a win tomorrow would be a dream come true: “It doesn’t get much better than playing the world champions in our own back yard. It’s a great occasion to show the progress we’ve made over the past few years.
“We’ll be playing in front of a capacity crowd, and it’s not just our own fans, but also the TV audience watching on Setanta as well. We’ve performed well in the last few World Cups, but a win tomorrow, well it wouldn’t come much bigger. We’ve got to step up and perform, and we know we’re in for a tough test - Australia never take anything lightly and I know from speaking with their fielding coach Mike Young, they’re preparing with the same seriousness for this game.
Australia captain Ricky Ponting agreed: It’s a one-day international and we have only 18 more before the World Cup so that’s not a lot. We may be missing (Mitchell) Johnston, (Peter) SIddle, (Ben) Hilfrenhaus, but we still have a well-rounded and experienced attack.
“It always takes a couple of days to get over the flight from Australia but the guys have trained hard and it’s another good day today. We are preparing like this game as for any other.”
Coach Tim Nielsen confirmed Australia would be looking at playing their best team.
“You can expect our very best XI. Having said that it doesn’t matter which mix of the 14 we play, we are confident in their ability. We’ll put out our best side tomorrow with an eye on the first ODI against England next Tuesday.
“We haven’t played Ireland for a while but the biggest challenge is that the players are ready to go. We have a had a look at the Irish on the video tapes but our focus is on ensuring our players are well prepared and ready to put our best foot forward.”
RSA Insurance Chief Executive Philip Smith said: “As proud sponsors of Irish cricket we at RSA Insurance wish the Irish and Australian Cricket teams all the best for tomorrow’s RSA Challenge, One-Day International. All eyes will be on Clontarf Cricket Club and I have no doubt it will a great occasion for everyone involved in Irish cricket and for sports fans across the world tuning in to the live TV coverage from Setanta. It is tremendous that Ireland once again takes centre stage on the world cricketing stage”.