Stormont will host Ireland’s five-match T20 series against Afghanistan in August, the climax to an international summer when Andrew Balbirnie’s side will play 15 games in 53 days.
With the Belfast venue also staging Ireland’s three-match series against World Cup finalists New Zealand in July, there will be a feast of international cricket for fans in Northern Ireland.
The series against Afghanistan starts on Tuesday August 9, just four days after the second and final game of their series against South Africa in Bristol and will provide coach Heinrich Malan with the ideal preparation for the T20 World Cup which takes place in Australia in October. The remaining games are on August 11, 12, 15 and 17, leaving the weekend free so that club games can continue uninterrupted.
Just a week into his new job, Malan yesterday watched Ireland Wolves deliver an emphatic comeback win over Namibia in Windhoek, with Shane Getkate and Neil Rock finishing the innings in style.
Getkate, who hit his highest T20I score in the World Cup qualifying final against UAE last month, brought up his first 50 for the Wolves yesterday from 32 balls with three successive fours and although he was out two balls later, with skipper Rock and Curtis Campher, they scored 55 off the last three overs to finish on 173 for four.
Murray Commins, who scored 60 on his Wolves debut, against a Zimbabwe XI last year, maintained his solid form with 37 (one six and three fours) from 36 balls.
The selectors made two changes with Matt Ford and Josh Manley coming in for Graham Kennedy and James McCollum and both made a good first impression.
Ford didn’t get a chance to bat but took two wickets in his first over and Manley conceded only seven singles off the bat when bowling the 16th and 19th overs as Namibia fell 32 runs short.
Home captain JJ Smit, who only faced three balls before the threat of lightning prematurely ended the first game of the series, plundered 46 from 25 balls, with three fours and four sixes, before holing out to long-on off Campher, when the totals were exactly the same in the 15th over.
But the vagaries of T20 cricket can be summed up by Campher’s bowling. After taking one wicket for three runs in that 15th over, he returned for the 17th and took one for 17, including four wides!
The third and final T20 game begins at 8am GMT this morning.
Ireland Wolves 173-4 (S Getkate 54, M Commins 37, N Rock 25 not out, S Doheny 23, C Campher 16 not out) Namibia 141-6 (JJ Smit 46, S Fouche 31; M Ford 2-10, C Campher 2-30, G Hume 1-25). Wolves won by 32 runs.