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Balbirnie leads experienced pack of Ireland Wolves



Head man: Andrew Balbirnie is out to continue his fine form

Head man: Andrew Balbirnie is out to continue his fine form

Head man: Andrew Balbirnie is out to continue his fine form

Andrew Balbirnie will lead a 16-strong Ireland Wolves squad for a three-week tour of Bangladesh next month when they will play six games against Bangladesh A.

Balbirnie, who became only the third player to score a double century for Ireland in last month's Intercontinental Cup match against Netherlands and is a certainty for the final match in the competition in November, is the second most capped international in a squad with a combined 423 senior games.

George Dockrell accounts for 131 of those games, the slow left armer who is still only 25-years old but has been an Ireland regular for seven years, and who, along with Peter Chase and John Anderson, will also expect to be facing Scotland in what will be John Bracewell's final game as Ireland coach.

But other places, especially for the one-day internationals against Afghanistan which are expected to follow the I-Cup game in the UAE, are up for grabs and the rest of the squad - including the three uncapped players, Nathan Smith, Jack Tector and Shane Getkate - know they have a chance to impress as Ireland prepare for a new era under coach Graham Ford.

Smith, Barry McCarthy and Stuart Thompson will be competing for fast bowling places while Jacob Mulder, Andy McBrine and Simi Singh are the slow bowlers hoping to join Dockrell on the senior tour.

Stuart Poynter is the No.1 wicket-keeper on the tour, and he will share the duties with Lorcan Tucker, but both will be just as keen to impress with the bat alongside specialists Tector, Sean Terry and Northern Knights captain James Shannon, who had such a prolific inter-provincial season.

Getkate, Shannon's Instonians team-mate who captained the Knights in their one-day action this summer, will come into contention for the five 50-overs games which follow a four-day match which starts the tour on October 11.

It may be a Wolves squad but there is nothing second-rate about the support staff with Bracewell plus Ireland team manager Chris Siddell, strength and conditioning coach Brendan Connor and performance analyst Scott Irvine leading the party.

New fast bowling coach Rob Cassell also makes his first tour, while the travelling batting coach is none other than Ed Joyce, to give him the opportunity to learn more about the role.

Squad: A Balbirnie (capt), J Anderson, P Chase, G Dockrell, S Getkate, A McBrine, B McCarthy, J Mulder, S Poynter, J Shannon, S Singh, Nat Smith, J Tector, S Terry, S Thompson, L Tucker.

Itinerary: All games v Bangladesh A: Four-day game on October 11-14; one-day games on October 17, 19, 21, 24 and 26.

Belfast Telegraph