FAST BOWLING legend Craig McDermott has pinned his colours firmly to the Ireland mast by plotting the downfall of his native Australia today in the opening game of Group B at the World T20 tournament in Colombo.
Nicknamed Billy the Kid during his 71 Tests for Australia in the 80s and 90s, McDermott now describes himself as "a gun for hire" and has been snapped up by Ireland as their bowling coach in Sri Lanka.
The combination seems to be working, with the Ireland seamers responding to his tough regime and the Queenslander himself quietly confident that his charges can upset a team ranked only one place above them at the shortest form of the game.
"I played for Australia for a long time and of course there are ties there, but I've worked really hard with these Ireland boys and got on well with them and we need a win," McDermott said, after his final training session.
"I believe we can win too. I'm not just saying that. Australia have slipped down the rankings and all the pressure will be on them. Their only option is to win and they will be under the pump to perform.
"T20 can be tough for bowlers and my job is to get them out there and feeling relaxed with a clear idea of what they want to do with the ball. I think we'll be close to that -- all the pressure is on Australia."
McDermott knows all about the Australia team from his recent spell as national bowling coach, and his insights have helped coach Phil Simmons prepare for a match that could prove a watershed in Ireland's march towards the top table of world cricket.
Another with a foot in both camps today is former Ireland captain Trent Johnston, who grew up in New South Wales before moving to Ireland to marry and raise his family.
The 38-year-old YMCA all-rounder is playing in his fifth -- and probably final -- world tournament (the T20 event is not classified as a World Cup) and has enjoyed victories over Pakistan, Bangladesh (twice) and England.
He was denied a last hurrah against Australia on home soil when this summer's one-day international in Belfast was rained off with barely an hour played, but the veteran is looking forward to the chance to add to his tally of big scalps.
"We've had a great build-up to this tournament and we're ready and raring to go," Johnston said. "They've obviously got quality players all the way through and we're going to have to be at our our very best to do it -- but what better way to start a tournament than by beating Australia?"
Ireland's Group B fixtures
Today (Colombo, 11.0am Irish time): v Australia
Monday (Colombo, 3.0pm): v West Indies
Ireland v Australia,
Live, Sky Sports 1, 11.0