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Ireland: International Tournaments
2008 World Twenty20 Qualifier
Belfast, Northern Ireland

The qualifiers for the 2009 T20 World Cup in England were held in Belfast in August 2008 and featured the six ICC High Performance countries at the time. Hosts Ireland were in Group A alongside Scotland and Bermuda, while in Group B, The Netherlands, Kenya and Canada battled it out.

As always seems the case, money was tight meaning a condensed format and tournament, but at least this time, unlike 2007, there actually was a standalone event and qualification wouldn't be based on a 50-over competition.

ICC, in their infinite wisdom, decided that there would be three games squeezed into each day which, in Belfast in early August, meant 9.30am starts. The combination of timings, late season tracks and white ball movement meant low scores were the order of the day, with a few exceptions.

There was little margin of error for sides with just two group matches initially, although two of the three sides would then proceed to cross over semi-finals.

Kenya v Netherlands: Edgar Schiferli bowling to Collins (©CricketEurope)Obuya

Kicking off the competition was The Netherlands against Kenya with the Dutch side winning by 19 runs, thanks primarily to a Man of the Match display by Ryan ten Doeschate who scored 56 and took three wickets. Edgar Schiferli also claimed three scalps while current captain Pieter Seelaar took the prize wicket of Steve Tikolo.

Next up in front of a large home crowd was the clash of the Celts as Ireland faced Scotland. Bowling first conditions were ideally suited for the hosts as wily medium pacers Alex Cusack (4-21) and Andre Botha (3-18) exploited as the Scots posted 117. The Irish though found conditions equally tricky and were indebted to Botha's 38 as they squeezed home off the penultimate delivery.

The third game of the day saw a bit of a shock as Canada beat The Netherlands, Haivar Baidwan took four wickets as the Dutch struggled to 97 - Peter Borren hitting an unbeaten 37. John Davison and Geoff Barnett got Canada off to a quick start but were pegged back by the Dutch and didn't seal the win until the final over.

Dutch disappointment though was quickly soothed by the realization that their nett run rate was positive, meaning no matter what the result of the final group game between Canada and Kenya, they were ensured a semi-final berth. They enjoyed the evening a lot better with that knowledge.

Scotland v Bermuda: Nel uproots Romaine's leg stump (©CricketEurope)

Day two began with Scotland needing to beat Bermuda to stay alive and they did it with little trouble. Dewald Nel took three wickets and bowled two maidens as Bermuda made 88 - Stephen Outerbridge top scoring with 37. Scotland's chase started poorly as George O'Brien removed both openers cheaply, but Colin Smith (46*) and Navdeep Poonia (36*) shared an unbroken stand of 92 and like the Dutch before them, could relax safe in the knowledge they were in the semi-finals no matter how the final match turned out due to their positive run rate.

The second game on Sunday was a winner takes all clash between Kenya and Canada and the Americas side's failure to chase their modest total against the Dutch came back to haunt them.

A disciplined bowling display saw Canada dismissed for just 91 and Kenya knew they would qualify if they chased it inside 18 overs. Kennedy Otieno's 40 ensured they did just that, but gave their fans a few scares along the way as they got over the line with one ball of the 18 remaining to leapfrog Canada by 0.08 on run rate.

The final game on Sunday was to be one of the most dramatic ever witnessed at the Belfast venue. Again a large crowd was present and most observers were expecting a straightforward Irish win against outsiders Bermuda. However, the visitors hadn't read the script and had the Irish reeling at 41 for 4 after 8 overs when the rain came on. Any hopes the Irish had of a reprieve were scuppered as the skies cleared and the officials decreed they would have one more over to face. Further disaster came as only two runs were scored and three wickets lost - Ireland 43 for 7!

Ireland v Bermuda: Botha is bowled by George O'Brien (©CricketEurope)

Duckworth/Lewis then adjusted Bermuda's total as 46 runs to win. However, the net overall run rate then had to be brought into account. Bermuda would have to get the 46 runs in eight overs to defeat and eliminate Ireland from qualifying for the semi-finals.

Their chase started at 7.30pm in fading light against a fired up Irish attack, which for once was loudly backed up by a Belfast crowd. Connell struck twice in the first three balls including the wicket of Glamorgan batsman David Hemp. That gave the Irish belief and with Botha proving unplayable, Bermuda panicked and ultimately fell four runs short on 41 for 8.

Ireland had got out of jail. Their coach Phil Simmons position had been under some threat and who knows what might have happened if they had been eliminated? There was the small matter of $250,000 qualification at stake too. The course of Associate cricket history might have been significantly different.

Ireland had little time to reflect on the win as they were back in action 13 hours later on Monday morning taking on Kenya for a place in the final and one of the two confirmed T20 World Cup qualification slots on offer.

The Irish bowlers gave Kenya precious little to hit and restricted them to just 67 with Botha - who would win Player of the Tournament - taking three wickets, while there were two apiece for Peter Connell, Kevin O'Brien and Alex Cusack.

A target of 67 shouldn't be much of a challenge but Ireland's safety first approach almost backfired as Wilson and Porterfield went for 0 to Thomas Odoyo. That meant they didn't get there until the final over thanks to Botha (22) and Kevin O'Brien (17*).

The second semi-final saw The Netherlands taking on Scotland. This game had extra spice as not only was there a huge chunk of money and a World Cup place on offer, but the Dutch were coached by Peter Drinnen who had been sacked by Scotland the year before!

Scotland v Netherlands: Kyle Coetzer pulls to the boundary (©CricketEurope)

Batting first a nervous Scotland never really got going, managing just four boundaries in their innings as they posted 107 for 8. Kyle Coetzer made 40 but they suffered four run outs as they became increasingly frantic trying for late runs, while Ryan ten Dieschate strangled any late hopes with three wickets.

The chase was always in Dutch control as Eric Szwarczynski and Tom De Grooth got runs, while Ten Doeschate ensured no late dramas to secure a five-wicket win and a finals slot in England.

Scotland had to put the disappointment behind them right away as they played Kenya 30 minutes later in 3rd/4th place play-off. Normally these matches mean little but on this occasion there was talk that Zimbabwe wouldn't be allowed to play in the tournament in England and the winners of this match would potentially be in prime position to fill in.

Indeed this is what indeed happened, although both may not have been fully au fait with it when they took the field.

Kenya's batting woes continued as Dewald Nel took 3 for 10 and with Richie Berrington taking two wickets, the Africans limped to 106 for 9. That was no trouble to Scotland as Ryan Watson and Kyle Coetzer shared a century opening stand in a nine-wicket win.

The final day was certainly a case of after the Lord Mayor's Show. First up was a 5th/6th place game which Bermuda had little appetite to play in. Having had the misfortune to share the same corridor as them at the hotel, let is say their preparations were less than professional unless they were discussing tactics noisily on their return from the bar at 3am.

Bermuda v Canada: Kyle Hodsoll's off stump is knocked back by Baidwan (©CricketEurope)

It wasn't the greatest shock to see them well beaten the following morning having made just 70 - Canada chasing it down in ten overs to win by eight wickets.

The final proved to be a damp squib as not a ball was bowled meaning Jeroen Smits and William Porterfield shared the trophy.

Both sides would record wins at the 2009 tournament, bit while Ireland's win over Bangladesh at Trent Bridge meant qualification for the next phase, The Netherlands' dramatic last-gasp win over England wasn't enough to see them progress as they lost out to Pakistan.

One of the lessons the ICC did take on board for the next few qualifiers was to take the vagaries of the weather out of the equation, and it was to the UAE for the next three editions of what would be a much expanded tournament as the format began to take precedence with the governing body.

The trophy was shared between The Netherlands and Ireland (©CricketEurope)