England rely on Joyce to overcome tricky Ireland

Published: Thursday, March 29, 2007, 23:53 [IST]
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Georgetown (Guyana):England hope their in-form and informed batsman Ed Joyce plays a key role in upstaging neighbours Ireland in the World Cup Super Eights here on Friday.

Joyce, who helped Ireland qualify for this World Cup before changing allegiance, has passed useful information on to England as to how to tame Ireland who have upset the calculations by reaching the second round.

"I have told team analyst Mark Garaway a little bit. I know 11 or 12 of the Irish guys pretty well but there are couple who have come in who I haven't seen very much of," said Joyce, who made his England debut against Ireland last year.

"I will be able to help out with a few tips but you have to keep things pretty basic against most teams whether you are playing against Australia or against Ireland so I think we're going to be keeping it pretty simple."

"Ireland play as a unit very well, they field very well, they bowl as a unit and they've got a lot of medium-pacers and spinners who bowl very straight. They bat all the way down to number 10," said the 28-year-old Joyce.

Ireland, making their World Cup debut, silenced all those who criticised minnows' participation in the event with a three-wicket upset win over former champions Pakistan in their crucial Group D match.

They tied their match against Zimbabwe before losing to the West Indies -- but still qualified for the Super Eights with three points in as many matches.

Joyce hoped England take the opportuntiy to peak for tougher matches.

"You want to peak at the right time in these tournaments and we'd like to think we are getting there after the first match," said Joyce, who hit 66 and 75 in England's wins over Canada and Kenya in the first round.

England, who qualified from Group C without carrying two points, know it's important to achieve a win on Friday, to press for a semi-final place.

After Ireland, England face Sri Lanka and Australia in Antigua in the space of four days, a task coach Duncan Fletcher had realised once the team qualified, the first time they cleared the first round since 1996 World Cup.

"We've got to go and win four games starting with that first one. At previous World Cups we've stumbled early on in the tournament and it's important we've gone through to the Super Eights," Fletcher said.

Irish coach Adrian Birrell disgareed Joyce passing the information would play a lead role.

"I am sure he (Joyce) knows all our players, but we also know their players and other players from all the countries. I think with a lot of video available on all teams it's not a huge advantage, it certainly does help," said Birrell, 47.

"We have played some good cricket, so we must keep the momentum against all teams," stressed Birrell who played first-class cricket for Eastern Province in South Afica and is Irish coach for the last four years.

"We know all the pressure is on England, they need to beat us to get to the semis, you know they are not carrying any points and if they don't pick two against us then they are under pressure."

Birrell said his team likes to play as "underdogs."

"We are happy to be here, we are the underdogs so we can go and play with freedom and play like we play as underdogs, so we are certainly looking forward to the match on Friday.

"We owe a big thank to Joyce for helping us through to the World Cup and look forward to playing against him."

Johnston confidnet of playing Eng tie: Meanwhile Ireland captain Trent Johnston was confident he would be fit to play against England in their World Cup Super Eights match on Friday.

The Australian-born Johnston, the team's most influential player as seam bowler and hard-hitting lower-order batsman, has been struggling with a shoulder injury and missed the group match against hosts West Indies last Friday.

He only started bowling again Tuesday after having a cortisone injection in his left, non-bowling shoulder four days ago.

"I'm hundred percent sure that I'm going to play, though the physio is 70 percent sure," Johnston told mediapersons.

"I don't want to sit out any more games unless I definitely have to because this is going to be my last World Cup and I want to be a part of this.

"I bowled about a dozen balls yesterday and it went okay and I'll have a bit more of a bowl tomorrow. I have been doing some fitness work and some therapy work on the shoulder just to strengthen it up.


England: Michael Vaughan (capt), Andrew Strauss, Ian Bell, Ravi Bopara, Paul Collingwood, James Dalrymple, Andrew Flintoff, Ed Joyce, Jon Lewis, Sajid Mahmood, Paul Nixon (wk), Monty Panesar, Kevin Pietersen, Liam Plunkett and James Anderson . Coach: Duncun Fletcher.

Ireland: Trent Johnston (capt), Kyle McCallan, Andre Botha, Jeremy Bray, Kenneth Carroll, Peter Gillespie, Dave Langford-Smith, John Mooney, Paul Mooney, Eoin Morgan, Kevin O'Brien, Niall O'Brien (wk), William Porterfield, Boyd Rankin and Andrew White. Coach: Andrew Birrell


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