Tournament's axing gives some Irish hopefuls chance to impress
The cancellation of the Euro T20 Slam may have been a big blow to the 18 contracted Ireland players but it has opened the door to a handful of others who are involved in this weekend's Inter-provincial T20 festival.
The 15 players who will be heading to Oman in October and onto Dubai for the T20 World Cup Qualifiers were due to be finalised after three weeks of intensive cricket at the Slam but now it has been condensed into three days in Bready , the Ireland selectors' last opportunity to see the contenders in T20 action.
Fifteen of the 'Slam players' are involved with the Northern Knights, North West Warriors and Leinster Lightning this weekend and playing for 12 places with the three absentees, Boyd Rankin, in the T20 Blast for Derbyshire, Paul Stirling at Middlesex and the injured Kevin O'Brien all certainties for selection. But those who missed out on the Slam suddenly have another chance to impress, and Peter Chase, Barry McCarthy and Jacob Mulder are just three who will believe they can force their way into the selectors' thoughts with big performances.
With seven 'Slam players' in the Lightning line-up - the Belfast Titans picks are split between the Knights and Warriors - they are favourites to win all three games this weekend, but after a wet few days at the first T20 festival in June, it is the Knights who are out in front.
By coincidence, the first game this morning is between the leaders and the holders and if Knights can repeat their eight-run victory at Pembroke they would need only to follow up with victory against Munster Reds tomorrow morning to claim the trophy with a day to spare. It would be achieved even quicker with a bonus-point win against Lightning and a Reds victory over Warriors this afternoon.
Munster have included Bready opening bowler Gregory McFaul in their 13-man squad, one of three Ireland Under-19 internationals - Nathan McGuire and Instonians' Oliver Metcalfe are the others - while Eddie Richardson, who played the last of his four internationals in 2014, returns to representative action.
But most eyes will be on the current Ireland stars, Andrew Balbirnie, Gary Wilson, Mark Adair, Greg Thompson and Craig Young, hoping they can continue where they left off against Zimbabwe last month.
Leinster Lightning: G Dockrell (capt), R Anders, A Balbirnie, P Chase, G Delany, M Ford, F Hand, T Kane, J Little, B McCarthy, M Lewis, S Singh, L Tucker
MTB Northern Knights T20 Squad: G Wilson (capt), H Tector (v/c), M Adair, J Cameron-Dow, D Delany, M Ellison, S Getkate, A Haggan, G McCarter, J McCollum, J Mulder, N Rock, G Thompson.
North West Warriors: A McBrine (capt), R Allen, A Gillespie, G Hume, G Kennedy, R MacBeth, W Porterfield, M Poskitt, D Rankin, D Scanlon, W Smale, S Thompson, C Young.
Munster Reds: J Benton (capt), Yaqoob Ali, J Barnes, S Doheny, C Hassett, R Jones, S Jones, G McFaul, N McGuire, O Metcalfe, N Pretorius, E Richardson, J Tector
Fixtures: Today: Knights v Lightning (11.30am), Warriors v Reds (4pm). Tomorrow: Reds v Knights (11.30am), Warriors v Lightning (4pm). Sunday: Lightning v Reds (11.30am), Warriors v Knights (4pm).I