England v Ireland: Coach Graham Ford bullish for Southampton ODI series

By Alvin McCaigBBC Sport NI
Graham Ford delivers instructions before last year's Test against England at Lord's
Graham Ford delivers instructions before last year's Test against England at Lord's
England v Ireland one-day international series
Venue: Ageas Bowl, Southampton Dates: 30 July, 1 August, 4 August (all 14:00 BST)
Coverage: Ball-by-ball Test Match Special commentary on BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra, BBC Radio 4 LW, BBC Radio Ulster MW, BBC Sounds, and BBC Sport website & app with live text commentary & in-play highlights (UK only)
TV highlights: 1st ODI on BBC Two (23:35 BST); 2nd ODI on BBC One (22:50, not Wales); 3rd ODI on BBC Two (23:30); all on BBC iPlayer

Coach Graham Ford says Ireland's last two games with England provide hope of an upset in their one-day international series which starts on Thursday.

Ford saw his team, which has not played international cricket since January, hold the upper hand in a Test and ODI last year before England prevailed.

"We've shown in the ODI at Malahide and the Test at Lord's that we can gave England a fright," he said.

"I believe we can win - this is a potential banana skin for them."

All three games in this ODI series are being played at the bio-secure Ageas Bowl in Southampton, where Ireland have been training,

Missed opportunities

Ireland reduced the soon-to-be world champions to 101-6, chasing 199 to win, in the one-day game in May but England secured a four-wicket win.

There was another scare for England in the first Test between the teams two months later - skittled out in the first innings for 85 leaving Ireland needing 182 for a famous victory.

Yet again the Irish let the chance slip as they were bowled out for just 38, but at least in both games they had the English on the back foot.

Ireland will hope it is a case of third time lucky as they aim to add to their sole win in 10 ODI meetings with England when play gets under way in Thursday's opener behind closed doors in the bio-secure Ageas Bowl.

And they facing a team shorn of many of its World Cup heroes - Joe Root, Ben Stokes and Jofra Archer among those on Test duty.

'We must get the basics right in order to compete - they would take a lot of flak if they lose and they have the pressure on them," added Ford.

"Not having a crowd is definitely not a disadvantage for us and it may calm the nerves of the younger players in. It's not strange for us to play with not many people in attendance but for England it could be an issue.

"Yes, there's a bit of rustiness but everyone is highly motivated and energised - there's a lot of positivity in the squad and I'm pleased overall.

"There's a family feel in this Ireland team and that that goes a long way to making you competitive."

Jofra Archer bowls Mark Adair in the ODI at Malahide in 2019
Jofra Archer bowled Mark Adair in the ODI at Malahide last year but he is among the missing England stars

This series is a lifeline for Ireland, with the postponement of the Men's Twenty20 World Cup meaning the three day-night matches represent their only remaining international fixtures in 2020.

Financial restraints faced by Cricket Ireland had already resulted in matches being called off before the Covid-19 pandemic left the Southampton matches as the sole surviving series.

Former South Africa and Sri Lanka coach Ford did not disguise his concern when asked if the scant fixture programme would hamper the development of the Irish team.

"Without doubt - I felt we were making good progress before the lockdown and the tour of the West Indies in January showed that," he said.

"We were looking forward to a full season of fixtures so it's a blow to our progress. It's a setback for us and it's a restart now."

Ireland fixtures
22 JulyPractice match
26 JulyEngland Lions (warm-up match)
30 JulyEngland (1st ODI, Southampton,14:00 BST)
1 AugustEngland (2nd ODI, Southampton,14:00)
4 AugustEngland (3rd ODI, Southampton,14:00)

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