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Cricket World Cup: Andrew White column

ICC Cricket World Cup 2011
Dates: 19 February-2 April Venues: India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh
Coverage: Highlights on BBC TV (see listings), Red Button & BBC Sport website at 2200 GMT every day (UK users only); Live Test Match Special commentary (BBC 5 live sports extra, BBC Sport website, some games also on BBC Radio 4 LW) and live text commentary on all England matches and selected other major games; Also live on Sky Sports.

Ireland at the 2007 World Cup
Ireland will hope for a journey that is as memorable as the 2007 World Cup

Andrew White
By Andrew White
Ireland all-rounder

Four years ago in the West Indies, an Ireland cricket team played in its first World Cup.

We marked our debut tournament with a memorable win over Pakistan on St Patrick's Day, and secured our place in the Super Eight phase at Pakistan's expense.

It was a step very much into the unknown but one we arrived home from with incredible memories, having laid a benchmark for the future.

The belief then came from hard work and a short history of beating very good sides, mainly on home soil.

However, Adi Birrell, who was coach at the time, had left no stone unturned in our preparations and whilst it came as no huge surprise to him or us as players - the realisation and importance of our success was worth its weight in gold.

This time around and the belief hasn't wavered - eight of the squad are returning for their second World Cup, for what should be an exhilarating number of weeks in Bangladesh and India.

The expectation of the sporting public in Ireland and that of the players is somewhat higher than 2007 and with that comes a huge amount of responsibility for us as players to do our utmost for the cause.

Boyd Rankin (centre)
The angular Boyd Rankin took 15 wickets at the 2007 World Cup

One of our overriding memories of the Caribbean was the colour and entertainment the travelling Irish support brought to the tournament, and the swell of support has grown year by year.

Our preparations have been excellent. Thanks to the support of our team sponsor, we spent a month in Pune, India, allowing us to acclimatise in many ways, not least getting used to the subcontinent pitches and an opportunity to put in the hard work needed to succeed at this level.

We have also spent the last two weeks in Dubai at the ICC Global Cricket Academy where facilities were outstanding, again putting in the "hard yards" that should, in itself, breed confidence.

Two defeats in practice games against Zimbabwe and Kenya in Dubai illustrated how the winter climates of Belfast and Dublin still take time to get away from, as batsmen struggled to get into any rhythm.

However, having moved to Nagpur for our official warm-up games, the buzz surrounding the World Cup has lifted the players and the focus and enjoyment, so key to our success previously, is beginning to have its effect.

Final touches are now being put in place ahead of our opener in Mirpur against Bangladesh on Friday, 25 February.

A warm-up game against New Zealand on Saturday night was an excellent test, one we lost by 32 runs chasing 311. We then beat Zimbabwe by four wickets on Tuesday.

We couldn't have asked for much more in terms of match preparation.

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see also
World Cup guide: Ireland
14 Feb 11 |  Ireland
Cricket World Cup Ten to Tackle
16 Feb 11 |  Cricket
Ireland beat Zimbabwe in warm-up
15 Feb 11 |  Ireland
Ireland beaten by NZ in warm-up
12 Feb 11 |  Ireland
Joyce ready for Irish challenge
11 Feb 11 |  Ireland
Ireland skipper upbeat for Cup
10 Feb 11 |  Ireland
Ireland lose to Kenya in warm-up
08 Feb 11 |  Ireland
West left out of Irish cup squad
19 Jan 11 |  Ireland
Cricket World Cup warm-up matches
16 Feb 11 |  Cricket
Cricket World Cup 2011 squads
19 Jan 11 |  Cricket
Cricket World Cup 2011
09 Mar 11 |  Cricket

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