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Cusack's Ireland inclusion never a doubt: Simmons

By Ian Callender

Alex Cusack is the one surprise name in the 18-man Ireland squad which leaves next Tuesday for the pre-World Cup acclimatisation tour to Australia and New Zealand.

Cusack has missed virtually the entire season with Clontarf because of a variety of injuries and has not played for Ireland since the one-day international against Sri Lanka back on May 6, when he scored 10 and took one for 53.

But national coach Phil Simmons insists it was always the plan to take Cusack who, with 155 caps, will still be the fifth most experienced player on the tour.

"Alex Cusack has been one of our best limited overs bowlers in the last six years," said Simmons.

"He has been in a long period of rehabilitation and is fit to train now. He will be back in training and bowling this week and part of his continued rehabilitation will be in Australia with the hope he is able to play towards the latter half of the tour in New Zealand.

"Alex has been injured before tournaments in the past but topped our bowling averages, so the selectors feel, given his past record, he deserves the chance to prove he can be fit for the World Cup, and this is the only tour before the final squad of 15 is selected in early December."

Peter Chase, the 20-year-old Malahide bowler who has taken nine wickets in his first two county championship games for Durham, is also in the squad in preference to Gloucestershire's Graeme McCarter. Chase made his Ireland debut against Sri Lanka A at Stormont in July but after his first two games has figures of 1-131 from 15 overs.

Explaining his call-up, Simmons said: "There are a lot of bowlers in the squad who are very similar to Graeme and Eddie (Richardson) and the selectors felt we needed something different. We've opted for Peter Chase who, with his height and pace, gives us some variety."

Max Sorensen has been named despite sustaining a wrist injury during last Friday's one-day international against Scotland.

As previously announced, Sussex captain Ed Joyce will miss the tour, following a summer of niggling injuries. Ireland play their first match, against West Indies, exactly five months from today.

It is not expected anyone outside the touring party will be considered for the finals.

Five members of the squad, including skipper William Porterfield, will miss the first match of the eight-game tour because of county commitments.

Ireland squad: W Porterfield (capt), A Balbirnie, P Chase, A Cusack, G Dockrell, A McBrine, J Mooney, T Murtagh, K O'Brien, N O'Brien, A Poynter, S Poynter, M Sorensen, P Stirling, S Thompson, A White, G Wilson, C Young.

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