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Lorcan Tucker back behind the wicket for Ireland’s delayed USA clash



Lorcan Tucker will resume wicket-keeper duties for Ireland

Lorcan Tucker will resume wicket-keeper duties for Ireland

�INPHO/Presseye/Rowland White

Lorcan Tucker will resume wicket-keeper duties for Ireland

The Ireland squad trained as normal yesterday expecting the now first one-day international against the USA to go-ahead in Fort Lauderdale today.

A new umpiring team flew in to replace the original quartet who were due to officiate the series, but one member tested positive for Covid-19 on Christmas Eve and the first of the three games had to postponed as the others were deemed close contacts.

Unless there was an outbreak in one of the teams, however, today’s game — the scheduled second of the series — will go ahead with Ireland back to full-strength.

Pace bowler Josh Little will be raring to go having missed the shared two-match series between the teams last week, due to his later than planned arrival from the Lanka Premier League.

Harry Tector, who wasn’t in the T20 squad, emerged from his Covid isolation on Christmas Eve, the same day that Craig Young flew in from Northern Ireland after his departure was delayed as he was a close contact with a positive test back home.

Regular ODI wicket-keeper Lorcan Tucker will also be back behind the stumps, in place of Neil Rock and while he is likely to resume his normal number seven batting slot, he is sure to be full of confidence having scored 141 runs — including his Ireland best of 84 — in the T20 series at number three.

“I wasn’t even sure I was going to be playing in the T20s, but I was delighted to be offered such a good opportunity (in the absence of Covid-hit Gareth Delany) and glad to contribute where I could,” said Tucker.

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“I’ll be happy to have the gloves back because that’s what I do more of on a day-to-day basis. I did love running round the outfield trying to stop boundaries, save twos and taking catches, but apart from one match last March for the (Ireland) Wolves in Bangladesh, I don’t have a clue when the last time I played and wasn’t the keeper.”

In an ODI, it was actually May 2019, against West Indies at Castle Avenue, when Gary Wilson — the assistant coach on this tour — was still in possession. Tucker batted at number four in that game, but this time Tector, who has scored two half centuries and is averaging 59 in his last three innings is expected to play that role.

William Porterfield can better that record, three half centuries and an average of 55 in Ireland’s last four ODIs and the 37-year-old former captain will reunite with Paul Stirling at the top of the order for his 308th cap.

Andrew Balbirnie will go back to his favoured No. 3 and Curtis Campher and Simi Singh should complete the top six with Andy McBrine returning as the second spinner on a used pitch likely to take an increasing amount of spin.

Little, Young and Barry McCarthy are favourites to complete the ODI line-up which looks much more secure and confident than the T20 side. So hopefully, Ireland can get two wins on the board — the final game is on Thursday — before they head to the World Cup Super League games in West Indies.

Meanwhile, the Ireland Under-19 players and staff all tested negative and flew to the Caribbean yesterday to prepare for next month’s World Cup.

Their opening match is in Guyana on January 15, but before that they will have a training camp and a four-match warm-up series against Zimbabwe.

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