Kevin O’Brien and Trent Johnston will come face-to-face tomorrow, not in Ireland, but 7000km away in the East African city of Kampala, Uganda.

The two men who were at the crease when Ireland famously beat Pakistan at the 2007 World Cup will be in opposition this time around though, with the pair having coaching roles at the CWC Challenge League B.

Johnston has been Head Coach of Hong Kong since 2019, while O’Brien has an assistant coach role with Italy for the two-week tournament, which also features Kenya, Jersey, Bermuda and hosts Uganda.

O’Brien, a Level Three Coach since 2018, explains how the opportunity came about.

“I’ve known the President of the Italian Cricket Federation (Fabio Marabini) for about four years, stemming from some work I did there with some club sides.

“He got in touch over the winter enquiring about my availability for this tournament in Uganda, the T20 World Cup Qualifiers in Finland, and the next round of the Challenge League in Jersey.

“It’s a great opportunity for me to learn and improve as a coach, with unfamiliar situations that challenge with high pressure and high stakes. I’m very excited about the role, and will be working alongside Gareth Berg who not only is Head Coach, but also still playing.

“I’ve had two weekends in Italy last month, coaching in Milan, Bologna, and Rome, working with 15 national players in each city. It was great meeting the guys before coming on the tour here.

“It’s a great chance for me to dip my toe into the world of coaching, as it’s something I really want to progress and get better at. I’ve done a few days with Jersey this summer, and also worked with Estonia earlier in the year.”

There is a strong Irish connection with the Italians, with Instonians opener Nikolai Smith in the current squad, although former Ireland Under-19 international Jamie Grassi misses out through injury, having suffered a finger fracture/dislocation.

The tournament starts today (June 17) and finishes on Monday June 27th.