Cricket: Ireland lining up to rock the world’s finest
National coach Phil Simmons will have the most experienced squad ever to leave Ireland when they head for the World Cup finals in Bangladesh and India, via Dubai, in just eight days time.
With one exception, the coach has his first-choice squad and all but two of the final 15, announced yesterday, earn their living from cricket.
Between them have a total of 1,341 caps, with 455 of them in one day internationals.
The notable absentee is Regan West, Ireland’s leading wicket-taker in 2009 but who has not played a match since.
Despite four shoulder operations in a bid to restore him to full fitness, the tournament has come just too early for the Civil Service North slow left armer and although he is on course to play again at the start of the new season, the selectors were forced to take the decision that he would not be match fit to take on the world best’s on the biggest stage of all.
That decision probably took longer than picking the travelling 15 because it meant they did not have to choose between Albert van der Merwe, The Hills off spinner, and all-rounder Nigel Jones, West’s club captain.
Both will make the trip to the sub-continent with van der Merve, after just eight ODIs, likely to play a full part in the action as No 2 slow bowler to 18-year-old George Dockrell, with Paul Stirling’s off spin also available.
And it the myriad of options which this squad gives which most excites Simmons. “As with most Irish teams of the past few years there are quite a few all-rounders and that gives us plenty of options in all departments,” he said.
“This squad contains a lot of experience with nine having played in the 2007 competition — I am sure that is more than most teams. What is different this time from 2007 is that 13 of the 15 earn their living from cricket — that’s practically a full-time squad.
“It makes such a difference having the guys full-time, and that is thanks to our team sponsor RSA Insurance, with whose support we have been able to offer the players who aren’t with English counties (seven) contracts with Cricket Ireland (five). We were also able to spend a month in India acclimatising, and that will stand us in good stead.”
Ireland World Cup squad: W Porterfield (Warwickshire, capt), A Botha (North County), A Cusack (Clontarf), G Dockrell (Somerset), T Johnston (Railway Union), N Jones (Civil Service North), E Joyce (Sussex), J Mooney (North County), K O'Brien (Railway Union), N O'Brien (Northamptonshire), B Rankin (Warwickshire), P Stirling (Middlesex), A van der Merwe (The Hills), A White (Instonians), G Wilson (Surrey).