Coronavirus: Ireland coach Ford keen for players to sample T20 World Cup atmosphere

By Sports Desk May 07, 2020

A behind-closed-doors T20 World Cup could rob some players of their only chance to play in front of huge crowds, Ireland head coach Graham Ford has said.

The sprint-format competition is due to begin in mid-October when Ford's Ireland take on Sri Lanka, a team he used to coach, in the first round of a tournament being staged in Australia.

Though cricket across the world is currently suspended due to the spread of coronavirus, the ICC said last month that the aim is for the T20 World Cup to be staged as planned.

However, the presence of fans at those matches remains a different matter as all industries continue to observe social-distancing measures.

Ford admitted he is split on wanting to play cricket as soon as it is safe to do so and the possibility of some of his players featuring in perhaps their only major tournament without fans present.

"A personal preference – I feel for the players – but I would just love to see cricket happening," he told Stats Perform.

"On the other side of it, it's such a fantastic experience for players to play in those sort of tournaments with big crowds. I feel as though those players are being let down.

"If there's a way of structuring it that eventually that tournament takes place with the normal crowds, that's definitely first prize. But if that can't happen, well, let's play cricket.

"I think it's quite sad if you get to one T20 World Cup and it's played behind closed doors; it's quite a downer on everything."

Ford also feels that nations like Ireland, who have to make it past the first round to reach the Super 12s, where Australia, holders West Indies and England will enter, will be the most disadvantaged by disrupted preparations.

Ireland have already seen a tour of Zimbabwe, due to happen in April, and a seven-match series against Bangladesh, scheduled for this month, postponed.

"Going into the year, I felt we could make a huge improvement in our cricket because our programme was really exciting," Ford added.

"All of that cricket would have improved a lot of our young guys and, by the time we got to the World Cup, we would have brought on a lot of those cricketers a great deal.

"Unfortunately, that's not happening, so it makes the challenge that much bigger.

"I suppose on the other side, some of the top teams, some of their gun players haven't played cricket for a while, if it works out that way.

"I think it might be easier for a Steve Smith or somebody to turn his game on than one of our 20-year-old players, so it's a bit of a disadvantage.

"From what I've seen from the Irish character and their commitment to try to make things happen and never-say-die attitude, we'll be up for the challenge."

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