World Cup semi-final would take Ireland to next level - Gary Wilson

Ireland wicketkeeper-batsman Gary Wilson
Wicketkeeper-batsman Gary Wilson has been playing for Ireland since 2004

Gary Wilson says Ireland could "make the cricketing world sit up and take notice" by reaching the semi-finals of the forthcoming Cricket World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.

"A quarter-final would be brilliant but if we really want to change the face of Irish cricket the way the guys did in 2007 then we maybe need to go further," argued the Surrey wicketkeeper-batsman.

"A place in the last four would take us to the next level," added Wilson before travelling to Dubai with the Irish squad for their pre-World Cup tour.

Phil Simmons's side will face Afghanistan twice and Scotland twice in one-day internationals as part of a triangular tournament held in the United Arab Emirates.

Ireland made a major impact in their first World Cup appearance in 2007, reaching the Super Eight stage and beating Test sides Pakistan and Bangladesh.

Ireland's Triangular Series matches
Afghanistan, International Cricket Stadium, DubaiSaturday 10 January, 10:00 GMT
Scotland, International Cricket Stadium, DubaiMonday 12 January, 10:00 GMT
Afghanistan, ICC Academy, DubaiSaturday 17 January, 06:00 GMT
Scotland, ICC Academy, DubaiMonday 19 January, 03:30 GMT

Four years later they failed to progress beyond the first round but secured a historic headline-grabbing three-wicket win over England, thereby enhancing their claims to be awarded full Test status in the future.

Shortly after the tournament ended, the ICC announced that the 2015 and 2019 World Cups would contain 10 teams.

The Associate countries, who were most likely to miss out in a tournament with fewer teams, strongly objected and, led by Ireland, urged the ICC to reconsider and the decision was reversed.

"The Triangular series is a competition in its own right, as well as being a World Cup warm-up, so we'll be looking to win all four matches," explained Wilson.

"But inevitably we'll have one eye on the World Cup as we've been preparing for and building towards that for the last four years.

Ireland's Cricket World Cup Pool B fixtures
West IndiesMonday, 16 February 2015
United Arab EmiratesWednesday, 25 February 2015
South AfricaTuesday, 3 March 2015
ZimbabweSaturday, 7 March 2015
IndiaTuesday, 10 March 2015
PakistanSunday, 15 March 2015

"We'll need three wins to make it out of our group into the knockout stages and then anything can happen. It's cup cricket and we'd back ourselves to do well in one-off games," added the 28-year-old.

A 15-man squad was selected for the initial tour to United Arab Emirates, with the same names likely to be submitted to the International Cricket Council on 7 January as the official panel for the World Cup.

"Andrew White was not available for selection, having failed to recover from his finger injury in time, but apart from that, we have a full squad to choose from and in my opinion, it's a pretty strong one.

"We have plenty of experience and a lot of good young players who have broken through in recent years, including Craig Young, Andy McBrine and Stuart Thompson from the north west.

"Credit must go to the North West Warriors for the way they've gone about their coaching and development programme in recent years."

Gary Wilson was speaking on BBC Radio Ulster's Sportsound programme.

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