North West cricketers William Porterfield, Craig Young, Stuart Thompson and Andrew McBrine have all be selected for Ireland’s forthcoming UAE squad.
Ireland have selected a 15-man squad to tour the UAE from January 4th to 19th.
The tour will comprise of four One-Day Internationals, two against both Afghanistan and Scotland, and is part of the final preparations for the 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.
However, the final World Cup squad will not be announced until early January, following submission to the ICC.
National Head coach Phil Simmons commented on the selection: “There is a nice balance to the squad, which has a huge wealth of experience, but also a few young guns.
“There are four players who have played in two World Cups (Porterfield, Kevin and Niall O’Brien and John Mooney) who have played 260 ODI’s between them.
“There’s also nine of the squad who played in our record run chase against England in that never to be forgotten evening in Bangalore in the 2011 World Cup, so that’s a good omen.
“We are backing young Donemana spinner Andrew McBrine who particularly impressed in the New Zealand leg of the acclimatisation tour, but it’s very unfortunate for Andrew White that his finger injury came at such a bad time for him.”
Ireland’s opening attack in the 2011 World Cup was Trent Johnston (retired) and Boyd Rankin (now England), and Simmons has gone for youth to fill the considerable void left by their absence.
“Craig Young has been fantastic since he broke into the team, and has continued to develop, while Peter Chase is growing in confidence and skill all the time. Peter, with his pace and extra bounce, is important for the type of Australian wickets we will play on in the UAE.”
Simmons was delighted at the consistent progress of Andrew Balbirnie, who has been the stand-out performer in recent months.
“Andrew Balbirnie’s form with the bat has been outstanding, with excellent performances in Australasia and in Dubai recently against a strong New Zealand ‘A’ team. His runs on tour have helped him force his way into the squad.
“It was a very difficult decision for the selectors to leave out Max Sorensen and Andrew Poynter but this just shows the competition for places in the squad.”
Former Irish international player Alan Lewis, now the Chairman of the National Selectors said of the squad composition: “It’s certainly been the toughest selection meeting I’ve been involved with.
“We have been very impressed with the way a number of players have stood up and performed well in the last few months with tours to UAE and Australia and New Zealand.
“The push for places has been incredibly competitive, which is an excellent indication of the greater depth of players we now have.
“It’s also refreshing to have no fewer than 13 of the 15 come through our youth system, which is a great vindication of our under-age coaching structures.
“For players like Max Sorensen and Andrew Poynter to miss out is testament to the competitive nature of the contracted players which is exactly what the selectors were looking for. There will naturally be disappointment and debate, but ups and downs are all part of sport.
“Both will know that one injury could create an opportunity and this will be no different for young guns Stuart Poynter and Graeme McCarter who have also impressed so much over the last few months.”
“All the players know that one injury could create another opportunity for a fringe player, so all those players not selected need to be prepared to step in at any time.”
Ireland ODI Squad for Dubai - William Porterfield (Captain) (Warwickshire); Andrew Balbirnie (Middlesex); Peter Chase (Malahide); Alex Cusack (Clontarf); George Dockrell (Somerset); Ed Joyce (Sussex); Andrew McBrine (Donemana); John Mooney (North County); Tim Murtagh (Middlesex); Kevin O’Brien (Railway Union); Niall O’Brien (Leicestershire); Paul Stirling (Middlesex); Stuart Thompson (Eglinton); Gary Wilson (Surrey) and Craig Young (Bready).