We are in a good place with our cricket and preparations for World Cup Qualifier: Ed Joyce

Ireland head coach Ed Joyce. © Cricket Ireland

Ireland are all set to feature in the ICC Women’s World Cup Qualifier that’s scheduled to start from November 21 in Harare. In Group A, they will compete against West Indies, Sri Lanka, Papua New Guinea and Netherlands. With the squad for the tournament likely to be announced next week, head coach Ed Joyce feels they have prepared well for the global event with some competitive cricket under their belt.

Ireland toured Zimbabwe ahead of the qualifiers to play four ODIs – their first since 2018 September – against the hosts and came up victorious with a 3-1 series win.

“I feel we are in a good place with our cricket and preparations for the Qualifier. Obviously, you would rather go into a tournament like this with more competitive cricket under your belt, but last month’s tour of Zimbabwe served as a great boost in skills, confidence and cohesiveness of the squad,” Joyce said.

After going down in the first match, Ireland came back in the series on the back of their batters putting up consistent performances and bowlers backing it up with some solid effort. Skipper Laura Delany scored her career-best score in the first ODI, Gaby Lewis scored three consecutive half-centuries, fellow opener Leah Paul chipped in with important contributions and Amy Hunter became the youngest centurion in ODIs on her 16th birthday.

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“Our batters were outstanding up against a good Zimbabwean bowling attack – Gaby and Leah leading from the top with back-to-back century opening stands, Gaby’s three consecutive half-centuries, Dels hitting two fifties, including her highest ODI score of 88, and Amy Hunter’s remarkable unbeaten century were definitely individual highlights worth mentioning,” Joyce added.

“Just as important as these individual performances to me, though, was the manner in which the whole batting unit worked together as a collective – with partnerships being the key to building big totals. The squad hasn’t played a lot of 50-over cricket in the last few months, so to perform as they did was a credit to the players.”

Joyce also lauded the bowlers for their show during the series and added that the whole squad used the tour not just an opportunity to acclimatise with the condition but also used it put in some performances.

“The story of that tour was more than just the batting. The bowlers also stepped up, with our leg-spinners Cara Murray and Celeste Raack finishing highest and second-highest wicket-takers of the series,” Joyce said.

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“It was also a pleasure to give out five caps to players making their ODI debuts – the touring experience for these players in particular is a valuable developmental opportunity and part of better understanding what international cricket is about. These were some of the notable takeaways of the tour from my perspective and we’ll be looking to continue this momentum going into the Qualifier.”

“At the outset of that tour we stated it was a chance to get a feel for conditions in Zimbabwe ahead of the Qualifier – but the most pleasing aspect for me was that the series provided so much more than just an acclimatisation opportunity.”

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