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Ireland coach John Bracewell will continue to back youth

By Ian Callender

Ireland coach John Bracewell has admitted he is putting Ireland's ranking in the ODI table on the back burner to bring the next generation of cricketers into the national team.

Afghanistan's 2-2 draw with Ireland in the series which ended at Stormont on Tuesday keeps them six points ahead of their Associate rivals with Zimbabwe sandwiched between the two sides in 11th place.

Even if Ireland win one of next month's ODIs against Pakistan in Malahide, they will still trail the Afghans, but Bracewell insists: "I can't worry about rankings. I believe these guys can do it, they won twice and we should have done it two other times in the series because we had the opportunities.

"But we are learning and young guys will make mistakes and they have to play to learn from their mistakes, because they will feel under pressure of losing their position."

Sean Terry was given his first three games, but Bracewell chose not to bring in Niall O'Brien for the final game after the experienced batsman proved his fitness with Leicestershire on Sunday.

"I thought about bringing Niall in but there was too much valuable learning with the guys we have. We know what Niall can do but I felt we had a rich opportunity to learn more," he said.

And although O'Brien, Boyd Rankin, Craig Young and Anderson should all be available to face Pakistan next month, the coach said he would not be afraid to retain the youngsters.

"You have to back them, someone has to believe in them and belief is a powerful thing for learning," he added.

He also confirmed that Ed Joyce, after scoring 399 in the series with his final innings of 160 not out the highest individual score in an ODI in Ireland, would continue at the top of the order with Paul Stirling at No 6.

"I'm happy with that combination, Kevin O'Brien, Stirling and Andy McBrine, with an extra batter fitting in there and with Niall in the wings and Andrew Balbirinie and Anderson out we have good batting depth," he said.

"With James Shannon and Greg Thompson also pushing for places we are getting some good cricketers getting good cricket."

There was double disappointment for Carrickfergus last night when they lost in the semi-final of the NCU Twenty20 to Lisburn, just 24 hours after being beaten at the same stage of the Challenge Cup by CIYMS.

Lagan Valley Steels T20 semi-final: Lisburn 172-4 (A Berry 53, C Chetty 51, R Rankin 41) Carrickfergus 168-7 (M Gilmour 64, P Botha 31; M Berry 2-26, S Lazars 2-27). Lisburn won by 4 runs.

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