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Anderson out in the cold for Ireland I-Cup game in Dubai

 

By Ian Callender

John Anderson is the surprise omission from the Ireland squad for their final Intercontinental Cup match against Scotland in Dubai this month.

The Merrion batsman has scored at least 50 in all six of his previous I-Cup games, including against the Scots four years ago, but he has lost out to an extra bowler in the 14 selected for the two-week tour to the UAE which also includes three one-day internationals against Afghanistan.

The injured Paul Stirling, Niall O'Brien and rested George Dockrell missed Ireland's last I-Cup game against the Netherlands at Malahide but return to a full-strength squad and with Jacob Mulder and Simi Singh retaining their places to give the selectors the option of three specialist spinners in Dubai, Anderson's leg spin and more importantly, his runs, have been sacrificed.

Anderson was surprisingly left out of the first-class game on the recent Ireland Wolves tour of Bangladesh and none of the others vying for a call-up to the senior squad impressed enough to dislodge the regulars who will see out the I-Cup campaign.

With Afghanistan in pole position in the table - they will win the cup if they defeat UAE in their final game - arguably the more important games next month are the three ODIs in Sharjah which immediately follow the four-day game.

They will be the first Ireland white ball games that new coach Graham Ford will see as they begin to the countdown to the World Cup qualifiers in Zimbabwe which has been confirmed as a three and a half-week tournament, starting on March 1, with the semi-finals deciding who qualifies for England 2019.

Ireland squad: W Porterfield, E Joyce, A Balbirnie, N O'Brien, P Stirling, S Singh, K O'Brien, G Dockrell, J Mulder, T Murtagh, B Rankin, P Chase, G Wilson, B McCarthy.

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