Phil Simmons banking on weather to help Ireland reign
PHIL SIMMONS is counting on 'home advantage' for Ireland's crucial World Cup match against Zimbabwe in Hobart after conducting a first training session at the Bellerive Oval in cold and blustery conditions.
Victory over the improving African side tomorrow morning would give Ireland a third win in Pool B and a toehold into the quarter-finals - especially if Pakistan are brushed aside by a rampant South Africa in the earlier game in Auckland.
Zimbabwe, who need to win to retain an outside chance of reaching the last eight, will be without influential captain Elton Chigumbura, who tore quadriceps during his side's defeat by Pakistan.
"I've never known Hobart to be anything other than cold," said Ireland coach Simmons. "And if it's like this on the day we will be far more at home than Zimbabwe - it's freezing, that's the only way to describe it."
While the 11 who lost to South Africa were allowed to ease any aches and pains in a pool session, Simmons was able to run his eye over the four members of the squad who avoided the carnage in Canberra, particularly pacemen Craig Young and Peter Chase.
The one area that has been lacking for Ireland to date has been penetrating fast bowling.
Young is genuinely quick on his day and was Ireland's star performer during 2014 but he has missed out to the more experienced Max Sorensen, who is probably a yard slower.
Sorensen (right) badly lost his radar in the opening overs against South Africa, delivering a succession of wides that undid a lot of the good work from John Mooney at the other end, and The Hills seamer could pay the price tomorrow.
Simmons is one of the more obstinate coaches, though - he still insists on Gary Wilson keeping wicket when he is clearly a far better outfielder than Niall O'Brien, for example - and he could stick with experience over youth for a vital game.
"Everyone is fit, so we have 15 to chose from," Simmons confirmed. "We will look at the pitch over the next couple of days and decide the make-up of the team. We could go with an extra seamer here or we could stick with the three spinners who have done well."
Meanwhile, Scotland became the first team to be eliminated when they failed to defend 318-8 after Kyle Coetzer had smashed 156 against Bangladesh in Nelson.
The Tigers completed the World Cup's second-highest successful run chase with six wickets and 11 balls to spare.
Ireland v Zimbabwe, Live, Sky Sports 4, tomorrow, 3.30am