Johnston relishing underdog role as Irish ready for England

IRELAND captain Trent Johnston reckons being dubbed part-time pushovers will give his team extra motivation to inflict another World Cup shock — this time on England (2.30pm, Sky Sports 1).

Michael Vaughan’s men are Ireland’s first Super Eight opponents at the Providence Stadium today, having defeated Pakistan to progress to the second stage of the Caribbean competition, and the collection of teachers, salesmen and delivery men are hoping for further complacency.

“The bigger nations probably did, when the Super Eights were decided, bank on two points against Ireland,” said Johnston.

“That is the sort of thought process we are happy for them to have going into games.

“Perhaps they will be lackadaisical in their preparation or rest a player — that is the incentive we need to go out there and perform well.

“We were told we didn’t deserve to be in the competition, now they are saying we don’t deserve to be in the Super Eight. It has added fuel to the fire.”

Johnston admits Ireland go into the game with expectations of being as competitive as they were in a meeting between the sides last summer rather than to win.

They lost their inaugural one-day international in Belfast by 38 runs to an England side missing Vaughan, Andrew Flintoff and Kevin Pietersen.

“We want to face the best in world cricket, that is what the Super Eight is about,” said Johnston.

“That is why we are over here, to get that experience and hopefully we do face the best team England can put out because that will be a sign of respect for us. We want to get in there and see how good we are.

“You can’t think that you are bowling to people like Kevin Pietersen because you get the ‘rabbits in headlights’ sort of effect.

“We will play our own game, stick to our own game plans; the guys are pretty level-headed.”

Regardless of the result in Guyana, Ireland will have at least five more games in the Caribbean.

All but county professionals Niall O’Brien, Eoin Morgan and Boyd Rankin will return to their nine-to-five routines, having been granted extended leave to complete their fairytale trips.

Johnston missed the final group game against West Indies with a shoulder injury but has bowled in the nets to no obvious discomfort, as has David Langford-Smith (back spasms) and both are set to play.

Meanwhile key all-rounder Andrew Flintoff has been passed fit to take his place in England’s line-up for today’s clash. The 29-year-old Lancashire all-rounder played a full part in practice yesterday, after recovering from a virus.

England must win if they are to stand a realistic chance of reaching the semi-finals — particularly after failing to take any points through from the group stages to the Super Eights.

“We will respect the Irish. They deserve to be in the Super Eights because they played good cricket — we’ve prepared in the same fashion as we would have done had we been playing any team,” said captain Michael Vaughan.

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