Belfast: Australia's David Warner paid Ireland the compliment of saying they can "blast it from ball one" ahead of the two countries' one-day international at Stormont on Saturday. And Warner should know. The 25-year-old left-handed opener has a strike rate of nearly 86 in his 26 one-day internationals.
Warner was straight into the groove during Australia's opening match of their short tour of the British Isles, which will give several young players experience of the local conditions ahead of next year's Ashes trip, with 74 at nearly a run-a-ball in a 102-run thrashing of Leicestershire on Thursday.
Saturday's fixture is the first international clash of a tour that features a five-match one-day series against England starting at Lord's on June 29. But Warner, keen to make clear Australia were not getting ahead of themselves, said of Ireland: "I think we have them in the T20 World Cup [in Sri Lanka in September]. They are a team that can come out and blast it from ball one. We are looking forward to the challenge. We always look forward to going out there. I understand the weather is not great at the moment; hopefully, we get a game in."
Ireland too want the weather to hold off because they believe they can now add Australia, the world's top-ranked side in the 50-over game, to their notable list of one-day scalps. The Irish have enjoyed some spectacular successes in recent years, knocking Pakistan out of the 2007 World Cup and defeating England at last year's edition in Bangalore on the back of a whirlwind hundred from Kevin O'Brien.
"We believe we have the talent in this squad to turn over the No. 1 one-day side in the world," said Ireland wicket-keeper Gary Wilson. The stage is long gone when a game between Ireland and Australia is an exhibition match," added the Surrey gloveman, one of several Irish players now in county cricket.
"It is an official one-day international and we are going out to win the game. Look at the make-up of our side. We now have eight players playing county cricket, week in week out and now including [seamer] Tim Murtagh who might get a chance to make his debut."
At Leicester, where England video analyst Gemma Broad - sister of England paceman Stuart - was busy gathering footage of the tourists, Australia seamer Clint McKay took four wickets and fast bowler James Pattinson, an Ashes prospect, two in a lopsided contest.
"It looks as if they are relying quite heavily on pace with only the one out-and-out spinner in Xavier Doherty," said Wilson, who played alongside leg-spinning all-rounder Steven Smith during the Australian's brief stint at Surrey in 2007.
"They are obviously a brilliant side with class players in their team, led by Michael Clarke, probably one of the best players in the world. Whatever side Australia put out, it's going to be a good one but I still believe we have the resources to beat them."