Friday, 27 November 2015

Sticky pitches, slow outfields & high temperatures in Bangkok - Izzy Joyce updates us

On the eve of Ireland's first game in the WWT20Q against the Netherlands tomorrow, Ireland skipper Izzy Joyce sends us her latest update. All the preparations are done. Three games stand between Ireland and a place in the semi-final...

It's been a week since we left an increasingly cold Ireland to travel to what we would regard as a very hot Thailand, though we have been reassured repeatedly that this - mid 30s - is as cold as it gets in Bangkok. Staying in this bustling city to play cricket is as far away from visiting as a backpacker as I could have imagined.

The last time I was here was in 2006. My five friends and I stayed in modest accommodation and regularly ate meals bought from street vendors, a strict no no this time around as avoiding food poisoning is much higher up the list of priorities than saving money is.

The shopping is just as good as I remember it, if a bit more expensive, and the food hasn't disappointed yet. Most important, the grounds we are playing at are pretty good. Yes, the wickets are sluggish and the outfield a little slow with the ball plugging rather than kicking on but there are pros and cons to playing in any country. Ireland hosted the last version of this competition and though the outfields would usually run a bit better and the wickets play a little truer, the rain played a huge role. At least here the weather is not an issue, except the dehydration factor of course.

The day after arriving we had our first training session and every player finished the session relieved that we had a week to acclimatise. Breathing is sometimes difficult and the heat makes maximum effort difficult. It was a wake up call for our less experienced players in particular as they have never had to play in this kind of heat before. Aaron (our coach) put on a reasonably tough fielding and fitness session that day to make sure we were operating at the top of our range and got the plane journey out of our systems early.

The two warm-up games have been crucial to our preparation. We played Scotland first and though we play them pretty much every year it was like playing an entirely new team in these conditions.

Bowlers who usually skid it through moved it off the pitch and spinners got every assistance from a helpful pitch. The combination of a sticky pitch, slow outfield and high temperatures made batting difficult so the game against the Scots was valuable in terms of getting to know the conditions and tweaking game plans.

We had the day off on Wednesday in between our two practice matches and the girls took the chance to pick up some of the widely available fake designer handbags, sunglasses and watches. There's also been a huge upswing in the number of loose, patterned trousers worn around the tournament hotel in the last few days.

The next day it was back to cricket and another warm-up game against the hosts. It was the first time we have ever played Thailand and we kept them down to 72 in their twenty overs. Then our two openers, Shillers and Ceil, got an opportunity to spend some time at the crease, knocking off the runs in just under 13 overs.

None of the warm up games between the various countries were high-scoring affairs with boundaries more difficult to come by than might be expected in a T20 tournament so it feels like the team that bats the best and adapts to the conditions will win this tournament.

Today was all about photos, meetings, sizing up other teams at the opening ceremony and frantically checking and rechecking gear bags to make sure nothing is left behind for the first real game day tomorrow. We face the old enemy, The Netherlands, first up in what could be the most important game of our group so it's game faces on and friendships on pause for the time being. 

Isobel Joyce

No comments:

Post a Comment