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Ireland without Stuart Thompson after bizarre accident

By Ian Callender

Published 30/01/2016

Ruled out: Stuart Thompson needed stitches in his foot
Ruled out: Stuart Thompson needed stitches in his foot

Stuart Thompson is Ireland's first casualty in Australia and will miss their third match in the Intercontinental Cup - the pathway to Test cricket - against Papua New Guinea starting tonight (midnight) here in Queensland.

The Eglinton all-rounder required stitches in his left foot after breaking a soft drinks bottle by stepping on it when getting out of the hotel swimming pool.

Max Sorensen, who is already with the squad preparing for next week's Twenty20 internationals, has been called in as a replacement but with 14 in the squad he is unlikely to play.

One North West player who will be involved, and leading the bowling attack for the first time in more than three years, is Boyd Rankin, after the big Bready-born fast bowler gave up his England ambitions to return to the Ireland squad.

"The first time I pulled the Irish jersey back on for the two-day game was a little strange, but I settled quickly and felt very comfortable and I'm excited to be back playing," said Rankin, who recorded figures of 1-29 from 11 overs in a red-ball practice match against a Queensland XI this week in Brisbane.

The noticeable difference in their move 800 miles north is the humidity, with the squad, virtually as one, describing it as the hottest conditions they have ever practised in.

Even Ed Joyce, another former England international, described it as "the most oppressive I've ever experienced. Everyone has worked hard especially on the fitness side of things and we'll certainly need it.

"The pitch looks good and if it's anything like the nets, it should be a good contest between bat and ball," added Joyce who has a third successive double hundred as a target after hitting Ireland's record score of 231 against UAE and 205 against Namibia last year.

"I don't think you can ever set your sights on getting a double hundred in any game. All you can do is set yourself up for a long innings and hope it comes. It's not impossible to score three in a row, just highly improbable!"

There could be a false start to the game as rain arrived overnight in Townsville and more has been forecast for today and tomorrow, but Ireland have needed less than an hour of the fourth day to win their first two games so hopefully it will be the same again.

IRELAND (from): W Porterfield (capt), A Balbirnie, G Dockrell, E Joyce, A McBrine, T Murtagh, K O'Brien, N O'Brien, S Poynter, B Rankin, M Sorensen, P Stirling, G Wilson, C Young.

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