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Joyce blow for Irish on the eve of their UAE trip


By Ian Callender

The Ireland squad head to the UAE today without their best batsman after the withdrawal through injury of Ed Joyce.

Ireland play their final Intercontinental Cup game against Scotland in Dubai, starting on Wednesday week, followed by three one-day internationals against Afghanistan in Sharjah, but Joyce suffered a reaction to his ongoing knee problem following last week’s warm weather training in La Manga and the 39-year-old has been pulled out of the squad.

His replacement is John Anderson, who was the surprise omission from the 14-man selection, the Merrion batsman having scored at least 50 in all six of his previous I-Cup games. He will fly direct to Dubai from Tasmania where is currently playing grade cricket.

The rest of the squad attended the sixth annual Cricket Ireland awards last night in Dublin where the big winner was Paul Stirling, who was named Turkish Airlines Men’s International player of the Year.

The Cliftonville-registered Middlesex professional was the clear winner, accumulating a total of 205 points after every player voted for their top three players in all 23 Ireland internationals this year on a 3, 2, 1 system. More than two thirds of Stirling’s votes came from the nine-match series, across all three formats, against Afghanistan in India in March when he won two man of the match awards and was named player of the one-day series.

Stirling will stay in Sharjah after the upcoming ODIs after being selected to play for the Kerala Kings in the inaugural T10 competition.

The 27-year-old will be captained by his Middlesex team-mate, former Ireland international and England’s one-day captain Eoin Morgan.

Kevin O’Brien, who along with William Porterfield were the other nominees for last night’s main award, has been named as a reserve for the T10 tournament and will be called up if any of the players withdraw.

There were six other Ulster winners last night with Northern Knights captain James Shannon named inter-pro Player of the Year and Ryan Eagleson Coach of the Year after guiding Ireland to the Under-19 World Cup finals.

Irish Cup winners Waringstown were the unanimous choice for Club of the Year after their four-trophy haul, which also included the Gardiner Bros Premier League title, the O’Neill’s Ulster Cup and the Lagan Valley T20 Cup, as well as being beaten finalists in the inaugural All-Ireland T20 tournament. Completing a memorable year at The Lawn, the 2nd XI won Junior League One.

Nigel Jones led CIYMS to AJG Challenge Cup success and second place, on run rate, in the Premier League and was named Club Player of the Year with his club-mate Jacob Mulder receiving the International Emerging Player of the Year.

Barry Chambers, the retiring Cricket Ireland media manager, received the John Wright award for the Outstanding Contribution to Irish Cricket.

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