Two days after Jeremy Bray was recalled to the Ireland team for this weekend’s double header in the Friends Provident Trophy, Eoin Morgan has moved one step closer to achieving his ambition of playing for England.
Morgan, who played for Ireland in the recent World Cup Qualifying tournament, was yesterday named in England squads for both next month’s World Twenty20 and, before that, the three-match ODI series against West Indies, starting on May 21.
To gain a 35 year old and lose a 22 year old may not be good news in the long-term for Ireland but as national coach Phil Simmons admitted yesterday, with Morgan’s talent and aspirations he was resigned to losing the Middlesex batsman to our Test neighbours.
He said: “We’ve known for a long time that Eoin was destined to play for England, and the squad is happy for him that he’s got there and realised his ambition. We wish him all the best in the Twenty 20 tournament and also for his one day international career.
“While it’s disappointing to lose a player of his undoubted calibre, we’ve contingency plans in place, as his selection hasn’t come as a shock to us.”
Indeed, even before Morgan joined up with the Ireland squad in South Africa, Simmons had accepted that he would leave for home to resume his county career once Ireland had qualified for the World Cup finals and he was left out of the last qualifying game against Kenya to allow Andrew Poynter match practice, in case he was needed for the final two days later.
He wasn’t, but Ireland still beat Canada by nine wickets and it has been proved that Ireland are still the dominant force in Associate cricket, even without their next England international.
Against the first-class counties, though, it is a different proposition and Ireland go into tomorrow’s game against
Nottinghamshire, and then Leicestershire on Monday, with the same squad that got “rolled over” by Worcestershire at Stormont last Sunday.
Poynter, Kevin O’Brien and Andrew White all “failed” last week but they will again form the Ireland middle-order at Trent Bridge tomorrow in the continuing absence of Alex Cusack who has been given an extra week to recover from his ankle knock. Trent Johnston, Ireland’s other full-time player, who played through the pain barrier in South Africa, may be available for the last two FPT games, the following weekend.
Certain to grab all the attention over the next two days, however, is Bray. A proven performer at the top of the order, no-one is quite sure how long it will take Ireland’s World Cup opener to adapt to the big-time once again but, on the ground where O’Brien scored 93 not out last year, in Ireland’s agonising one-run defeat to Notts, this year’s team can approach the game with confidence rather than apprehension.
Meanwhile, North Down have moved quickly to replace missing professional Iain Robertson. The NCU champions said they would dispense with the services of the New Zealander if he did not arrive in time for today’s game against CIYMS.
The club has kept its promise and their overseas professional for the rest of the season is Pakistani Mohammad Saddiq, a 30 year old right arm seam bowler and lower-order bat.
CIYMS have signed former Northamptonshire batsman Paul Coverdale as cover for their overseas professional Paul Rofe who has yet to arrive from Australia. Coverdale has already experience of the NCU with Carrickfergus.
Woodvale crashed out of the Bob Kerr Irish Senior Cup yesterday, losing 2-0 in a bowl-out, conducted by mobile telephone, to Old Belvedere.
The north Dubliners are away to Brigade in the second round next Saturday.