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Strong Aussie line-up arrive in Belfast

Australia may have lost the Ashes, but the proud nation still thrashed England by an innings in the final Test of the series last weekend and it was only last March that they won the World Cup.

And eight of the world champions' squad arrived in Belfast last night ahead of their first ODI - at Stormont tomorrow (10.45am) - since the fireworks went off in celebration of their triumph in the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

Following the retirement of Michael Clarke, they have a new captain, with Steven Smith, the leading Test batsman in the world, taking over the reins and he can call on Mitchell Starc, the leading ODI bowler in the rankings.

Their formidable pace attack also includes Nathan Coulter-Nile and James Pattinson - both returning to the squad for the first time this year - and Pat Cummins, one of five survivors from the team that played in Belfast three years ago, and who was clocked at just under 94mph in the match cut short by rain.

All-rounders Glenn Maxwell and Shane Watson, along with Starc (2-20) bowled in the World Cup final and Smith and David Warner scored 101 of their 186 runs. George Bailey is a former ODI captain and Mitchell Marsh played in the Oval Test.

There are three uncapped players in the squad but Paul Stirling, Kevin O'Brien, John Mooney and Stuart Thompson faced spinner Ashton Agar on this ground in the game against Australia A in 2013.

Joe Burns scored two half centuries in the Boxing Day Test on his debut against India last year and showed his one-day prowess with 154 from 131 balls for Australia A in India three weeks ago.

Victoria all-rounder Marcus Stoinis also comes fresh from the A tour. He replaces the suspended James Faulkner as the 'extra all-rounder', while Matthew Wade has the chance to establish himself as the first choice one-day wicket-keeper following the retirement of Brad Haddin.

Ireland had hoped the most recent clash between the teams would have been the World Cup quarter-final at the Adelaide Oval in March but Pakistan's win in the final group tie dashed that scenario. Instead, they have to go back to September 2012 at the World Twenty20 in Colombo and despite the change in format and the 35-month gap, there could be 14 playing again (seven apiece).

Australia remain one of the teams Ireland have never beaten but five years ago at Clontarf, William Porterfield and Stirling put on 80 for the first wicket in 11 overs, in pursuit of a victory target of 232. They lost all 10 wickets for 112 but if Ireland get a start like that tomorrow, a victory over the world champions may no longer be a dream.

Ireland: W Porterfield (capt), A Balbirnie, G Dockrell, E Joyce, J Mooney, T Murtagh, A McBrine, K O'Brien, N O'Brien, P Stirling, S Thompson, G Wilson, C Young.

Australia: S Smith (capt), A Agar, G Bailey, J Burns, N Coulter-Nile, P Cummins, G Maxwell, M Marsh, J Pattinson, M Starc, M Stoinis, M Wade, S Watson, D Warner.

Belfast Telegraph


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