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Rising stars to pitch for Ireland places

 

By Ian Callender

The armchair critics have been out in force recently lambasting Cricket Ireland for the lack of A-team fixtures and the lack of depth in the Ireland playing pool. Well, today is the day when the players have the chance to prove them wrong.

It probably didn't need much persuasion for Bangladesh and New Zealand to accept warm-up matches ahead of the Tri-series with Ireland, starting in Malahide on Friday.

But after the Ireland Wolves' underwhelming pre-season tour to the west of England for games against Gloucestershire II and Bath CC, today's 50-over match at Stormont against a Bangladesh XI (10.45 start) is a significant and welcome step up in class.

The New Zealanders face the Wolves in a Twenty20 match at Rathmines tomorrow (4pm).

Of the 13-man squad named for today's game, seven are full internationals, three of whom are desperate to hold on to their places and the others equally determined to return.

Andy McBrine, Craig Young and John Anderson, called in as cover when Niall O'Brien injured a finger in Bristol, were all in England last weekend for the one-day internationals but did not see any action, while Tyrone Kane, Josh Little, James Shannon and Sean Terry have all played at the highest level without making their mark.

There is plenty of time for Little, just 17-years-old and, but for exams, would have been in India with the Ireland squad for their three-week joust with Afghanistan. He has already three Twenty20 games under his belt and would appear closest to getting back into the big time.

Terry played five ODIs last year with a top score of 16, Shannon had 12 games in 2012-13 but only one T20 - when he got a duck - since, while Kane enjoyed a seven-game run in 2015, all T20s, but batted only twice and bowled just 13 overs.

He remains one of Leinster Lightning's most consistent performers and deserves his chance to prove he is ready for a return.

Four more internationals will be in action tomorrow with Lorcan Tucker, unavailable today because of exams, behind the stumps, although his batting will be watched just as closely.

Waringstown captain Greg Thompson has another chance as a T20 specialist while Stuart Thompson is in the Tri-series squad but will need a big performance to be considered for Friday's opener against Bangladesh and Eddie Richardson gets the chance to prove he is better than inter-pro class.

Belfast Telegraph

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