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Ireland in the running for a Lord's Test date with England

 

By Ian Callender

Ireland could be in line to play England in a Test match at Lord's in 2021.

The ECB yesterday announced the venues for all their home Tests until 2024 and with India due to visit England in three years' time for a five-match series, that would leave a one-off Test, probably to start the summer, against Ireland.

Five venues have been listed for 2021, but there will be two Tests at Lord's and if the proposed Future Tours Programme is confirmed, India and Ireland would be the visitors that season.

Ireland play the first of four games in South Africa today against Northerns/Eastern franchise side at the University of Pretoria as they begin the final countdown to next month's World Cup qualifying tournament.

After four facile but convincing wins against Scotland and UAE in Dubai last month, today's game promises to be their toughest game since beating Afghanistan in December.

Ed Joyce was not out in both innings on last month's tour and when he plays well - he scored 116 and 31 - Ireland invariably go onto a match-winning total. And after fitness problems kept him out of the Afghanistan series, Joyce (39) has confirmed he is ready and raring to go in Ireland's most important tournament of the year.

"I could have played all four games in Dubai, but felt I didn't need to because I got runs and it also gave others got opportunity for time in the middle," he said.

"I've felt a lot better in the last few months been able to practise better and I'm heading into the tour with a bit of confidence."

Meanwhile, Ireland Women's tour of Zimbabwe came to a soggy conclusion yesterday when the last five proposed T20 internationals were abandoned, after six days of persistent rain.

But Waringstown's Cara Murray, who made her debut on the tour, earned praise from head coach Aaron Hamilton.

"I was particularly impressed with Cara, the way she handled herself for a young leg-spinner, and I hope she kicks on," he said.

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