Former Australian wicketkeeper Rod Marsh says Ireland, Kenya, the Netherlands and Canada could cause a few surprises at the Cricket World Cup beginning in two weeks.
Marsh, the director of coaching at the International Cricket Council's Global Academy in Dubai, has worked with players from the so-called Associate nations for the past two years in preparation for the tournament beginning Feb. 19 in India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.
The 63-year-old Marsh -- who played 96 Tests for Australia -- and his assistants, New Zealand bowler Dayle Hadlee and Pakistan batsman Mudassar Nazar, have warned established countries not to take the less-fancied nations too lightly.
"I am not saying one of those teams will win the World Cup, but I am saying they will give a very good account of themselves," Marsh told "Australian Associated Press" today.
"These guys have prepared probably better than most of the Test nations, because they haven't had all the other competitions and distractions."
Ireland made the Super Eight stages in 2007 and Marsh says it has the talent to repeat that achievement this year.
"Ireland are always well prepared, they have experienced players, most are playing county cricket and they are in pretty good shape," he said.
"They actually think they can win the tournament and not just compete, which I think is fantastic."
Batsmen from the four countries have been using the futuristic "Pro Batter" and "Spin Bowla" machines in Dubai on wickets made from Pakistan soil as they look to give themselves the best possible chance of success.
"We've strived to get them into a position where they know all about batting on the subcontinent," Marsh said. "We identified that the biggest problem for these guys in the past was that they didn't make enough runs.
"There has been a heap of footage shown to them about how the top players bat on the subcontinent and Mudassar has been a diamond in talking to them about batting and also reverse swing. They cannot be any better prepared."