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Irish selectors opt to stick in quest to reach the T20 World Cup

 

Happy man: Ireland coach Graham Ford backs his stars
Happy man: Ireland coach Graham Ford backs his stars

By Ian Callender

The Ireland selectors have backed the 15 players who won the Tri-Series in Malahide last week to take them to the T20 World Cup finals in Australia next year.

The squad for next month's qualifying tournament in the United Arab Emirates will be announced this morning with Gary Wilson confirmed as captain and Simi Singh, brought in for the injured Jacob Mulder, retaining his place.

The two new faces in the Tri-Series, Harry Tector and David Delany, did more than enough to justify their inclusion and speaking after their last-gasp final-day victory against Scotland, head coach Graham Ford was delighted by their impact.

On 21-year-old pace bowler Delany, who after a nervous debut in the first game against Scotland bowled his next two four-spells for just 24 runs each, Ford enthused: "I can't say enough about him, absolutely splendid these last two games. We've always known he is a high-class bowler and you could just see he is that good. So that was huge."

And on 19-year-old batsman Tector, who missed the last game of the series because of a slight niggle after scoring 60 in his second international, the coach added: "In the second half of the season Harry has found such good form. He is a 360 player, he's striving to get better, so it's great to see the younger guys kick on."

Ford also had special praise for Gareth Delany, who, in his first innings as opening batsman in place of Paul Stirling, scored 52 from 28 balls and gives Ireland a ready-made replacement in the Qualifiers at the top of the order, and Andrew Balbirnie, who confirmed his role as Ireland's best batsman with 129 runs in the three-match series.

"Gareth has come on beautifully, a really handy T20 player to have in all three dimensions," he said. "And I have been lucky to have worked with a few exceptional players but Balbo is showing something very special. Let's keep him going."

Ford also defended his captain, who has been the subject of criticism, particularly on social media, for his slow scoring.

"I haven't seen the criticism but here's a guy who has a really good T20 record at every level. One innings he smashes a few either side of the fielder for four and is flying at 20 off fewer than 10 balls, but then some (shots) go straight to a fielder, he gets bogged down, gets out, and suddenly he's a criminal," he said.

"Yes, we lost momentum late at times in the second innings but if Wilson is not there, the next guys are not doing it either.

"If Gary is there he is more likely to keep that momentum going. He wasn't in Oman (last February) and that was a disappointment. You need your captain confident and positive. He is great for the young lads and his leadership is right up there."

Ireland's first match in the Qualifiers is in Abu Dhabi on October 18 against Hong Kong.

Probable squad: G Wilson, M Adair, A Balbirnie, D Delany, G Delany, G Dockrell, S Getkate, J Mulder, K O'Brien, B Rankin, P Stirling, H Tector, S Thompson, L Tucker, C Young.

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