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Hammer blow for Ireland as Joyce is ruled out of tour


By Ian Callender

The Ireland squad leave this evening for Johannesburg for next week's one-day internationals against South Africa and Australia, but they are travelling without the injured Ed Joyce.

The hammer blow was announced yesterday by Cricket Ireland, citing a progressive knee injury for which Joyce requires minor surgery. He is replaced by YMCA's Sean Terry, who made his debut against Afghanistan in July.

No disrespect to Terry, but he has been called in to make up the numbers because if any batsman is irreplaceable on the international stage it is Joyce.

He may turn 38 next Thursday but he is still Ireland's best and classiest batsman, the only player to score two double centuries for his country and in that series against Afghanistan he scored two hundreds, his second in the final ODI 160 not out, levelling the four-match series at 2-2. Terry scored 16 in three innings.

Two other players have been given permission to join the squad late. Captain William Porterfield is in the Warwickshire squad for today's Royal London Cup final against Surrey and flies out tomorrow, while Tim Murtagh, their most experienced pace bowler, could be arriving only 24 hours before Ireland face South Africa tomorrow week.

Middlesex have requested that Murtagh is available for their final county championship match of the season against Yorkshire, starting on Tuesday, when a win will give Middlesex their first title in 23 years.

Cricket Ireland Performance Director Richard Holdsworth said: "This match means a huge amount to both Tim and Middlesex. Having played with the club for 10 years, it would be the culmination of one of his most fiercely held ambitions. We felt this was an exceptional situation and a game which we should allow Tim to play in."

Andy McBrine, however, is part of the squad which heads out for a week's training camp ahead of the games in Benoni and misses today's North West Premiership title decider at Ardmore.

Meanwhile, there was good news for the North West this week with the Cricket Ireland board approving a request from the provincial union for financial help for Bready Cricket Club in their efforts to improve the international ground.

Bready were due to host two men's T20 internationals and four women's games this month but rain meant only two games were possible and the last two Women's ODIs against Bangladesh were moved to Instonians.

The money will pay for a full-time groundsman and hopefully improve the drainage at the ground so the "venue can maintain its standards in order to be competitive with other Irish venues."

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