Scott Campbell is set to go from unused bowler in a three-day interprovincial to Ireland’s front-line spinner on his international debut against Australia ‘A’ at Stormont today (11am start).
The selection of the Coleraine slow left armer, who was a member of Ireland’s Under 19 World Cup squad in Australia last summer, raised eyebrows when the squad for this weekend’s four-day game was announced on Monday but it underlines the paucity of spin bowlers in the country.
Ireland were obviously hoping that George Dockrell would be released by Somerset for the game — after all, he hasn’t played a one-day game for his county this season — but his employers have retained him for games against the Unicorns and Yorkshire, and the national selectors have chosen to go down the like for like route.
National coach Phil Simmons said: “Scott is the next spinner in line behind George.
“He's impressed me when I've watched him bowl for Ireland ‘A’ and the Under 19 side. These type of games against real top quality opposition will be vital for him in his cricketing development and will help him improve.
“I've said before that four-day cricket is where players really learn how to play the game and it's great that the team are getting this type of exposure against high calibre opposition.”
There is no doubt it will be a formidable test for an Ireland squad missing not just Dockrell but five other county professionals.
But even this under-strength team are expected to put up a better show than Scotland managed in their game, which finished on the third day, last Sunday.
Batting first, Australia declared on 372 for eight and then bowled out the Scots for 149 and 93 in a total of 74 overs.
It would have been a crushing innings victory except the Aussies chose to have more batting practice and knocked up 230 for five in their second innings for a 360 runs win.
The fact that James Pattinson, one of the four-strong pace bowling attack which is likely to feature in the first Ashes Test next month, had match figures of seven for 37 in 17 overs could excuse him from facing Ireland.
But Peter Siddle who took only two wickets — as well as making a debut first-class century — may be on duty again, although Ryan Harris, Jackson Bird and Pat Cummins seem certain starters having missed the game in Scotland.
Cummins is not in the Ashes squad but Paul Stirling, Ireland’s
only county professional involved, will remember him from the Aussies’ last visit to Stormont last year, when he claimed the Ulsterman’s wicket.
At least Ireland’s start tomorrow could not be worse than in that game, when they lost two wickets in the first three balls. Could it?
The winners of the last group match between Civil Service North and Lurgan will be the other qualifiers from Group A, a game postponed last night because CSN thought the game was at Pollock Park!
The Competitions Committee will decide if, when and where the game will be played.
North Down lost to Lisburn in Group B but both teams go through to the semi-finals, Lisburn as group winners.
At Belmont, CIYMS 76-6 (15 overs, N Burns 24; G Kidd 2-17) Waringstown – set 79 in 15 overs - 82-0 (12.2 overs, G Thompson 60 not out).
Waringstown won by 10 wickets (D/L)
At Eaton Park, Ballymena 157-6 (20 overs, K Aphale 73, D Kennedy 24, J Kennedy 21; E Moleon 2-19) Instonians 106-7 (13 overs, C Brome 44; S Lazars 3-20).
Match tied (D/L)
At The Green, Lisburn 113-4 (16 overs, R Rankin 37, D Brown 34, C Ervine 31; T Ley 2-18) North Down 89-7 (16 overs, R Haire 23; D Simpson 3-21, C Ervine 2-26).
Lisburn won by 25 runs (D/L).