Trent Johnston, the former Ireland captain, may be happy to take a back seat in the build-up to tomorrow’s landmark RSA international but on the field he intends making a big impression.
It’s a occasion he could only have dreamed of when he made his Ireland debut just five years ago.
With the second one-day international against Scotland in Aberdeen last Sunday washed out without a ball bowled, it cleared the way for Australian-born Johnston to make his 100th appearance for his adopted country against England.
“It’s always good to play Scotland,” said Johnston, “but it couldn’t have worked out much better. I can hardly say I enjoyed watching England regain the Ashes but on Thursday I have got the chance to get my own back.”
And Johnson, who tossed the coin for England’s Andrew Strauss to call when the teams met at Stormont for the first time three years ago, like the rest of the current Ireland squad is convinced they can have a big day.
“We’re not going out as whipping boys. We’ve done it before against a Full Member and if Boyd (Rankin) plays it will give us an even better chance,” says Johnston.
“We lost by only 38 runs in 2006 and this year we have a better, all-round squad. We are now expected to win every game (at Associate level) so we always want to test ourselves against the Test nations and this squad gives us a great chance.”
If the bowling attack, with or without Rankin, can repeat their 40 overs against Scotland last Saturday, England’s batsmen will know they have been in a game.
Johnston agrees that it was probably the best bowling attack he has been part of.
“Andre Botha is back in the one-day game and that is a huge bonus, Kevin O’Brien is bowling three or four yards quicker, Regan West is in unbelievable form, Kyle McCallan got better the longer he bowled and at the start with Alex Cusack (sharing the new ball with Johnston) we didn’t give them anything to hit.
“Kyle McCallan batted at No 11 in that team — he would probably have been No 4 in the Scotland side — so we bat all the way down as well,” said Johnston.
“Even without KP (Kevin Pietersen) and Freddie (Andrew Flintoff) England are genuinely dangerous opponents because the players that come in will have a point to prove. But a win would make the day and I can assure the spectators it will not be for want of trying.”
Teams: Ireland (from) W Porterfield (capt), A Botha, A Cusack, T Johnston, J Mooney, K McCallan, K O’Brien, N O’Brien, B Rankin, P Stirling, R West, A White, G Wilson.
England (from): P Collingwood (capt), J Anderson, R Bopara, T Bresnan, S Broad, J Denly, E Morgan, M Prior, A Rashid, O Shah, R Sidebottom, G Swann, L Wright.