Ireland build for World Cup

AMSTERDAM - Ireland begin the defence of their International Cricket Council World Cricket League here today with captain Trent Johnston looking for players to stake their claim in next year's World Cup squad.

The First Division of the WCL is the leading one-day tournament for teams outside the elite of Test cricket.

Ireland, who competed alongside the big boys at this year's World Twenty20 and gave Australia a run for their money at the start of the Aussies' tour of England a few weeks ago, begin the defence of their WCL title against former champions Kenya in Rotterdam today.

Meanwhile, Canada, last year's losing finalists, play emerging cricket nation Afghanistan as Scotland face the Netherlands, the hosts, in Amstelveen.

"I think (Ireland coach and former West Indies batsman) Phil Simmons and the selectors are pretty happy with the side we have here," said Johnston, the 36-year-old all-rounder who was born in Australia.

"I think it is a good opportunity for the players to put themselves forward for a place in next year's ICC Cricket World Cup squad.

"We have probably got five or six of the regulars here and the rest of the guys are trying to put themselves up for further selection. We are in a sort of a rebuilding stage, I suppose, before the tournament in India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh."

Canada captain Ashish Bagai is confident they have enough "gas in their tank" to go one better than last year. - Sapa-AFP