Ireland aim to give Aussies fright
Trent Johnston(R) and Paul Mooney © AFP
Ireland captain Trent Johnston wants his team to finish their debut World Cup campaign on a high and start by giving champions Australia a fright when the two sides clash on Friday.
Ireland stunned cricket by beating Pakistan in the first round, a victory which helped them into the Super Eights stages at the expense of the 1992 champions.
Now they want one more win before heading home.
"If you cant get yourselves up for a game against Australia, then you should not be playing in the World Cup," said Australian-born Johnston.
"We need to play at least 10-15 percent better than we did against Pakistan. We have to give our very best, bring our A game to the park in every department."
After facing Australia, Ireland will then face Bangaldesh here on Sunday before taking on Sri Lanka in Grenada on April 18.
The game against Bangladesh will decide who finishes with the wooden spoon but, at the moment, Johnston is just concentrating on the enormity of the task against Australia.
"We need to give it our best shot. It is, after all, Australia v Ireland, professionals v amateurs," said Johnston, who played six first-class matches for New South Wales before moving to Ireland.
Johnston, who played alongside current players Michael Clarke, Nathan Bracken and Brad Haddin, admitted facing his homeland team was a dream.
"It will be a special feeling to play against Australia, not just for me but for the other 14 guys in the squad. To come up against the world champions, going for a third title and being in such outstanding form, is great.
"But its also about the squad. Its a great day for us, a massive game for Irish cricket and, hopefully, we can make it memorable through being competitive."
Johnston, one of three Aussies in the Irish squad, revealed he once dreamed of playing for Australia.
"Watching the World Cup in Australia in 1992 was a fantastic experience. I did dream of playing for Australia, but unfortunately, that didnt happen. Ireland gave me the chance to play in the World Cup, and I am grateful for that," said the 32-year-old.
Johnston married an Irish girl and became an Irish citizen in 2003.
Ireland coach Adrian Birrell said he was relishing facing the mighty Australians.
"Its a dream," admitted South African Birrell who was as stunned as anyone when his team made the second round here.
"I had planned a holiday in Mexico. I had to cancel that after we got to the Super Eights. I told the boys that by getting through to this stage, they have given me the greatest present ever.
"There is a great deal of satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment, this is the result of five years hard work. I am very proud of the boys. We are under no illusion against Australia but we want to finish the tournament on a high.
"I have told the players to be selfish and put up good individual performances against Australia, which will be great for them. This match is the toughest in the history of Irish cricket, so we must enjoy that."
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