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New coach Ford into thick of it as Irish plan busy 2018

 

by ian callender

Graham Ford's first matches as Ireland coach will be back in the UAE next month when the squad return to continue their preparation for the World Cup qualifying tournament in March.

A tri-series with the UAE and Scotland had been confirmed, but following the Netherlands' success in the World Cricket League - which earned them the 13th place, alongside the 12 Full Members, in the ODI League which starts in 2020 - the Dutch are keen to join the action.

That would mean each team playing each other once rather than twice under the original schedule, but Ireland will still have a minimum of nine games before the WCQ opener.

The Ireland squad will then go to La Manga for a four-day camp at the start of February before travelling to South Africa, where they will play two local teams and two more Associate sides in 50-over games before making the short hop to Zimbabwe for the qualifying tournament. That will give Ireland eight matches if they reach the semi-final, where they can expect to face one of West Indies, Zimbabwe or Afghanistan for a place at England 2019.

The final is on March 25, and the Ireland squad will be straight into red-ball action, and match preparation for the historic first Test, with a game in the first weekend of April against a county side in England, and they will return there two weeks later for another four-day game. The first three-day interprovincial championship match will also take place before Ireland face Pakistan at Malahide on May 11-15.

The rest of the summer promises to be just as busy with two T20s arranged against Full Member opposition - Australia and India are playing in England - six white-ball games against Afghanistan, further ODIs and T20s away to either Scotland or the Netherlands, and then a Full Member 'A' side - probably India after their 'A' tour of England - will visit Ireland for three weeks in August, with games in all three formats.

The players currently in Sharjah were given the day off yesterday ahead of tomorrow's final one-day international against Afghanistan (10.30am GMT) when Ireland bid to come from behind to complete a series win after their 51-run victory on Thursday.

Meanwhile, the Ireland squad that qualified for the Under-19 World Cup has been chosen en bloc for the finals in New Zealand next month with the addition of Clontarf's Andrew Vincent, son of former Ireland international Deryck.

Harry Tector captains the team, while Josh Little is the one senior international included in the squad.

Morgan Topping of Waringstown is the only NCU player, but there are three from the North West - Varun Chopra, Reece Kelly and Graham Kennedy.

Kelly and Chopra will also be on opposite sides in the first round of the North West Senior Cup after Bready were drawn at home to Coleraine in one of two all-Premiership games, the other seeing Donemana start their quest for a record seventh consecutive success at Strabane.

Ireland U19 squad: H Tector (capt), I Anders, A Cawley, V Chopra, M Donegan, JJ Garth, J Grassi, R Kelly, G Kennedy, J Little, S Murphy, M Neville, N Rock, M Topping, A Vincent.

NW Senior Cup draw: Glendermott v Ballyspallen, Bready v Coleraine, Burndennett v Fox Lodge, Eglinton v Killyclooney, Ardmore v Bonds Glen, Newbuildings v Drummond, Strabane v Donemana, St Johnston v Brigade.

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