Get with it, Simmonds warns Irish after Afghan humiliation

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Phil Simmonds accused his Ireland side of complacency following their defeat by Afghanistan on Wednesday but backed his players to come good for the ICC World Twenty20 tournament starting this weekend.

A deeply disappointed Simmonds was reacting to Ireland's five- wicket loss to their fellow qualifiers in their final warm-up game at the Guyana National Stadium.

The Irish open their Group D campaign back at the Georgetown venue tonight against West Indies but, after Tuesday's 40-run loss to New Zealand, the defeat by Afghanistan perplexed the head coach.

"I can't express my thoughts," Simmonds, the former West Indies batsman, said with a wry smile. "We didn't start the game well. We can't have five wickets down for 30 runs in eight or nine overs and expect to be competitive in a game.

"It's a case of complacency and bad batting as a whole. We've just got to make sure that we get rid of that complacency."

Ireland struggled with bat and then ball in key phases of the game. The Afghans' opening bowler Dawlat Ahmadzai immediately got them in trouble, having captain William Porterfield caught second ball for a duck before knocking off Paul Stirling, Alex Cusack and Kevin O'Brien for just 15 runs in his four-over spell as Simmonds' team slumped to 32 for 5 in the eighth over.

Only a sixth-wicket stand of 79 between John Mooney, who top-scored with 42, and Gary Wilson, who hit 32, allowed the Irish to post a score of 133 for 9 in their 20 overs.

Ireland's bowlers began brightly in response, with the slow left-armer George Dockrell again the pick of their attack with two wickets for 23 runs in four overs as Afghanistan advanced to 66 for 4. Then came the game's decisive partnership with Mohammad Nabi and Asghar Stanikzai adding 66 runs to set up victory. Stanikzai's unbeaten 39 came off 27 balls.

Simmonds, however, said that losing warm-up games had not unduly affected Ireland in the past and that he had confidence in his players to turn things around again. "We lost four going into the [Twenty20] World Cup in England last year and we lost two coming into the [50-over] World Cup here three years ago, so that does nothing for us," Simmonds said.

"The thing about it is that before yesterday and today we had done everything that we wanted to do leading up to the competition.

"Two days doesn't change anything. I think it's a case of us making sure [by] Friday morning that mentally we get prepared for what is the biggest game since we've been on this tour.

"I think the guys are capable of doing that. We've had two bad days but two bad days don't make a summer, as they say. I think we still have the desire to come on Friday and perform."

Meanwhile, the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in Antigua has been passed fit to host internationals again after being suspended for 12 months due to a pitch fiasco, the International Cricket Council has announced.

The second Test between England and West Indies had to be abandoned as a draw after only 10 balls in February 2009 after the ground was declared unfit and dangerous to play on.

"As per ICC instructions, over the past year appropriate work was carried out and monitored by the West Indies Cricket Board and an inspection of the ground was carried out by Jeff Crowe of the Emirates Elite Panel of ICC match referees," the sport's governing body said.