The Netherlands and Ireland Women's teams have departed on a two-week tour to Sri Lanka as part of their preparations in the build-up to the Women's World Cup Qualifier later this year. A five-day coaching programme from April 18 to 22 will be followed by an eight-day quadrangular series also involving Sri Lanka and Pakistan from April 23 to 29. All four teams will be based in Colombo during the tour.
The training programme, in partnership with the ICC European Development Programme, replaces what was previously run as the ICC European Women's Academy. It is to be managed by Philip Hudson, ICC Regional Performance Officer, and will involve a three-strong coaching team, including former England A players Simon Francis and Kelly Evenson, from ICC Europe supporting the Ireland and Netherlands Women's teams and their national coaches.
It will consist of centre wicket and net practices focused primarily on batting against spin; local cricketers will be acting as bowlers to aid both sets of players in acclimatising to sub-continent pitches and conditions. Developing the standard of fielding is also a key objective of the programme. Selected players will undertake a media training session to learn key skills in dealing with the media to prepare them for future regional and global cricket tournaments.
"For Women's cricket in Europe this is the biggest event that has ever taken place," said ICC Regional Development Manager, Richard Holdsworth. "It will be a fantastic opportunity for all the players and management to compete against full member nations and sample Asian conditions in preparation for the end of the year.
"The development of women's cricket in Europe is improving each year, with healthy participation figures, this series is just evidence of what can be achieved with a lot of hard work."
Ireland National Women's Coach Stephen Moreton was pleased that the team would be travelling to Sri Lanka to improve Ireland's chances at the Women's World Cup Qualifier. "It's a massive benefit to our preparations, as we will be facing similar conditions in November, when it really counts," said Moreton.
Netherlands Captain Helmein Rambaldo suggested that successfully acclimatising to sub-continental conditions will be her team's main aim for the trip. "By having the tour to Sri Lanka, we are firstly getting the opportunity to get used to conditions in Asia and by playing the teams ranked above us, it will be a good challenge to see where we are at the moment and what we still need to work on till the tournament in Bangladesh."
Ireland and Netherlands will both play three ODIs and three Twenty20s each in the series.
Ireland Squad: Ciara Metcalfe, Clare Shillington, Amy Kenealy, Eimear Richardson, Rebecca Rolfe, Laura Delany, Shauna Kavanagh, Louise McCarthy, Kimberley Garth, Mary Waldron, Emma Flanagan, Laura Cullen, Aisling Gill
Netherlands squad: Helmien Rambaldo, Violet Wattenberg, Marloes Braat, Laura Brewer, Christine Erkelens, Evelien Gerrits, Carlos de Groot, Denise Hannema, Jolette Hartenhof, Esther de Lange, Esther Lanser, Mol Alarda, Marijn Nijman, Miranda Meier