Late call-up is Mark Adair's chance to shine for Ireland: captain Porterfield
Ireland v England, One Day International, Malahide, Today, 10.45pm
Mark Adair is set to make his Ireland debut in today's one-day international in Malahide after being called into the squad only yesterday morning.
The unfortunate player to miss out is Stuart Thompson, who damaged ligaments in his right shoulder after landing awkwardly at training on Wednesday. The Eglinton all-rounder, who was due to play his first ODI in two years, is likely out for three to four weeks, so will also miss the upcoming Tri-Series with West Indies and Bangladesh and the two ODIs against Afghanistan at Stormont.
Ireland captain William Porterfield announced the injury and replacement at his regular eve-of-match press conference yesterday lunchtime.
"There's a fair chance that Mark will come in as a straight swap for Thommo and over the next couple of weeks the young lads will be given an opportunity, and that starts tomorrow," he said.
While Adair is the only uncapped player in the squad, Josh Little and Lorcan Tucker have yet to make their ODI debuts and Waringstown's James McCollum was summarily left out after his first-ball dismissal in his maiden ODI against Afghanistan in February.
Porterfield said the batting line-up hadn't been confirmed but one of McCollum or the in-form Tucker - he hit an impressive 81 for Leinster Lightning against a Northern Knights attack, including Adair, in the inter-provincial in La Manga last week - will make the starting XI, along with Little's left-arm pace.
Adair was due to play for Ireland Wolves against Bangladesh at The Hills on Sunday and, along with his CIYMS team-mate James Cameron-Dow, had been with the squad on Wednesday as net bowlers. When the scan on Thompson's shoulder came back yesterday morning, ruling him out of this month's action, Adair was called in as his replacement and hurriedly kitted out for the team photograph.
It promises to be a memorable debut for Adair with England, now the world's No.1 ODI side and favourites for the World Cup on their home soil, always a huge attraction.
Even though they are without their five most prominent Indian Premier League stars - Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler, Johnny Bairstow, Chris Woakes and Moeen Ali - there are enough world class players, including Test captain Joe Root and Dublin-born skipper Eoin Morgan, to make them huge favourites but Porterfield is excited by the challenge.
"England are a good team, the way they have gone about their one-day cricket for the last 24 months. It brings opportunity for us and hopefully there will be a big crowd in and it's a great way to start the summer," he said.
"We've had a bit of time off after the tough India tour, then have been in La Manga, just getting as much cricket as possible under our belts and preparing as well as we can at the start of the season ahead of what will hopefully be a very good month."
Barbados-born Jofra Archer, who only qualified for England last month, is one of three visiting debutants today, and his extreme pace is certain to hurry the Ireland batsmen, but most of the team have faced him before in Ed Joyce's testimonial game in Sussex last June.
"A few of the lads have also faced him in county cricket but there's plenty of footage of him and everything's in the open these days," added Porterfield.
"There's been a lot of hype, we just have to look after ourselves. The media build you up but can then knock you down. There will be lot of pressure on him but there is a lot of pressure in international cricket, he's an exciting talent and I hope it goes well for him - after tomorrow!"
Porterfield, Paul Stirling and Andrew Balbirnie will be Ireland's top three but the captain is under pressure after a disappointing tour of India when four ODI and two Test match innings brought a total of just 51 runs. But, as ever, he is backing himself to get out of the slump.
"I'd a bad March," he admitted. "But I'd only three (ODI) games in the 12 months before that. I felt a lot better in the second half of the series in India, albeit it didn't turn into a score, but I feel fine and don't worry about what anyone is saying."
If Tucker and Adair fit into the batting line-up alongside Kevin O'Brien and Gary Wilson, who plays his 100th ODI today, Porterfield knows much will depend on the experienced players.
"I've been captain a long time and we are in one of those phases where a lot of young players are coming through," said Porterfield. "Myself, Gary and Kevin have to help them and lay the foundations for the future. It's still up to the young lads to get us out of the team, but it's up to us to push on and keep our place in the team. It's exciting that the lads are coming in.
With Boyd Rankin, restored to the team after being surprisingly left out of the Test match in India, and the reliable Tim Murtagh leading the attack, and George Dockrell as the front-line spinner, the team will be completed by either second spinner Andy McBrine or Little, with the extra pace of the 19-year-old Pembroke bowler likely to win the day.
Ireland have never beaten England on home soil in five attempts, but Scotland, coming off the back of a World Cup qualifier from which they were unlucky not to progress, stunned them in Edinburgh last year.
Over to you, Ireland.