Cricket: Veteran Johnston aiming to taste a fourth InterContinental Cup victory
TRENT JOHNSTON is aiming to reach his fourth InterContinental Cup final this week with a victory over the Netherlands in Ireland's penultimate qualifying match in Deventer.
Veteran Johnston lifted the IC Cup as Ireland captain in 2005 and 2007, and was a key member of the team that completed a hat-trick of wins against Namibia a year later.
"It's no secret that it's a competition I really enjoyed playing in," Johnston said.
"That first win against Kenya is a pretty special memory for everyone involved with Irish cricket at the time, as it was our first international trophy.
"Then to retain it twice was a fantastic effort by the team. You don't get three times winners very often in any sport."
Ireland head the IC Cup qualifying table after five rounds of games and a victory over their hosts would not only secure a place in the December final but also serve as a morale boost ahead of next week's two World Cup qualifiers against the same opposition.
Coach Phil Simmons doesn't have the majority of his county professionals available for the four-day game which starts todayso he will look to young wicketkeeper Stuart Poynter and Merrion skipper John Anderson to continue their good form with the bat.
Captain Kevin O'Brien and the experienced Andrew White – who scored a brilliant IC Cup century on the Deventer ground in 2004 – give the middle order a solid look, with Johnston and Max Sorensen opening the bowling against a Dutch side who will also be missing key players.
Meanwhile, the annual International Cricket Council meeting that ended in London on Saturday, has delivered a double boost to Irish cricket.
The ICC committee have decided to raise the number of participating teams from eight to 10 at the 2014 Women's World Cup finals, mean Isobel Joyce's team will be playing for one of three available places when the qualifiers are held in Dublin later this month.
Also, the ICC has reduced the waiting time to two years for Associate players like Eoin Morgan and Boyd Rankin who wish to return to their original country after representing a Test-playing nation. Previously, Ed Joyce had to wait four years.