THE Irish team should be on a high ahead of today's clash against the UAE at the Gabba, but something has been bugging the players and staff.

The team began its 2015 World Cup campaign with a surprise win over the West Indies - the third upset in its short history in the global tournament. That result followed memorable victories over Pakistan in 2007 and England in 2011.

But there is a genuine fear those triumphs could soon be a thing of the past, with the ICC announcing the number of teams at the next World Cup in England in 2019 would be reduced from 14 to 10.

Opening batsman Paul Stirling was one of the heroes in his team's victory over the West Indies, blazing 92 from just 84 balls as his team ran down the 305-run target.

Stirling was also part of Ireland's 2011 World Cup team which surprised England in India, and scored a century against the Netherlands at that tournament.

Although the 24-year-old is softly spoken, he feels strongly about the World Cup being reduced to 10 teams.

"Something we love looking forward to is playing in the World Cup," he told APN. "It only happens once every four years. With it going down to 10 teams now, it sort of takes the world out of the World Cup.

"We've just got to keep winning games and hopefully we'll get more games against big nations."

Despite its success at World Cup level, coach Phil Simmons, a former West Indian all-rounder, said getting those big games was still a problem.

"It's sad that since the last World Cup we've played maybe nine big ODI games, so we're not being given a proper chance to be a part of those top 10 teams," he said.

"If we get 15 games a year then we have a chance of being in the top eight."

Simmons said Stirling, as well as fellow top-order batsmen Ed Joyce and Niall O'Brien, were part of an impressive Irish batting line-up.

"When he (Stirling) relaxes he plays some extraordinary shots and hits the ball as clean as anyone," Simmons said.

If Ireland wins tonight, and can follow up with victories against Zimbabwe and Pakistan, it would put the team into the last eight for the second time

The UAE lost its only game of the tournament, making 7-285 after batting first in Nelson last Thursday, before being run down by Zimbabwe with four wickets and two overs to spare.



Gabba, 1.30pm (AEST)

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