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Andrew White's World Cup Blog

Courtesy of BBC Online, the Ireland allrounder writes about his experiences at the 2011 Cricket World Cup.

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Belief hasn't wavered

Thursday February 17, 2011

Four years ago in the West Indies, an Ireland cricket team played in its first World Cup.

We marked our debut tournament with a memorable win over Pakistan on St Patrick's Day, and secured our place in the Super Eight phase at Pakistan's expense.

It was a step very much into the unknown but one we arrived home from with incredible memories, having laid a benchmark for the future.

The belief then came from hard work and a short history of beating very good sides, mainly on home soil.

However, Adi Birrell, who was coach at the time, had left no stone unturned in our preparations and whilst it came as no huge surprise to him or us as players - the realisation and importance of our success was worth its weight in gold.

This time around and the belief hasn't wavered - eight of the squad are returning for their second World Cup, for what should be an exhilarating number of weeks in Bangladesh and India.

The expectation of the sporting public in Ireland and that of the players is somewhat higher than 2007 and with that comes a huge amount of responsibility for us as players to do our utmost for the cause.

One of our overriding memories of the Caribbean was the colour and entertainment the travelling Irish support brought to the tournament, and the swell of support has grown year by year.

Our preparations have been excellent. Thanks to the support of our team sponsor, we spent a month in Pune, India, allowing us to acclimatise in many ways, not least getting used to the subcontinent pitches and an opportunity to put in the hard work needed to succeed at this level.

We have also spent the last two weeks in Dubai at the ICC Global Cricket Academy where facilities were outstanding, again putting in the "hard yards" that should, in itself, breed confidence.

Two defeats in practice games against Zimbabwe and Kenya in Dubai illustrated how the winter climates of Belfast and Dublin still take time to get away from, as batsmen struggled to get into any rhythm.

However, having moved to Nagpur for our official warm-up games, the buzz surrounding the World Cup has lifted the players and the focus and enjoyment, so key to our success previously, is beginning to have its effect.

Final touches are now being put in place ahead of our opener in Mirpur against Bangladesh on Friday, 25 February.

A warm-up game against New Zealand on Saturday night was an excellent test, one we lost by 32 runs chasing 311. We then beat Zimbabwe by four wickets on Tuesday.

We couldn't have asked for much more in terms of match preparation.

This article first appeared on BBC online and is reproduced with their kind permission.

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