Birrell looks to Aussie fighter Johnston
Ireland's coach Adrian Birrell watches his players in the batting nets during team training. © AFP
Ireland coach Adrian Birrell will look to his Australian-born captain Trent Johnston to fight fire with fire when the World Cup debutants clash with Ricky Ponting's defending champions.
Johnston is one of three Australian-born players in the Ireland team which has dumbfounded the tournament by reaching the second round Super Eights after knocking out Pakistan.
"What I look for most in a player is attitude. Obviously talent is important but I need to know that if we get into a scrap they're there for you. Trent brought that," said South African Birrell who steps down as coach after the World Cup.
"He's a fighter on the field. He leads on the field and he leads off the field. He leads in training. The guys needed to be pushed. You don't get any glory without hard work. And we needed the hard work."
Johnston, opening batsman Jeremy Bray and bowler Dave Langford-Smith are all Austalians who settled in Ireland after marrying Irish girls.
Birrell, who hands the reins over to former West Indies Test player Phil Simmons after the World Cup, is adamant that his coaching career will end on April 18 when Ireland play their last Super Eights match against Sri Lanka in Grenada.
"I know my time in Ireland has been successful but somehow the judging of a coach at a top level is all about winning and losing and I sometimes feel disillusioned with that," Birrell told the Tribune newspaper.
"There's more to cricket than just winning and losing. I derive more satisfaction by getting success out of a young player. The top level also takes me away from my family.
"We're not going to close the door on any big job," he added.
"But my first priority is the family and I'll have to make sure the family are okay before accepting any other job. Right now any big job in world cricket involves a huge amount of travel and that's just not on for me.
"I've probably taken it (the Ireland job) as far as I can take it. I think they're capable of better and bigger things.
"With Phil's experience he's better placed than me to take them forward. The team of (Irish Cricket Union chief executive) Warren Deutrom and Phil Simmons will continue the momentum forward. The guys are in good hands."
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