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Ireland cause a few surprises ahead of big Pakistan cricket clash

 

By Ian Callender

The new era in Irish cricket has started earlier than expected with three surprises and a new cap in the expanded squad of 14 named for next week's historic first Test match against Pakistan.

Northern Knights' 21-year-old Australia-born pace bowler Nathan Smith and his provincial captain and Instonians team-mate James Shannon are included along with Leinster Lightning opening bowler Tyrone Kane, who has played only seven Twenty20 internationals for Ireland, the last in 2015.

Eglinton skipper Stuart Thompson is recalled, while George Dockrell is the biggest omission with 182 international caps under his belt, with current form (rather than loyalty) one of the factors which the selectors took into consideration.

Outbowled in this week's inter-provincial by North West Warriors captain Andy McBrine and after failing to impress in the two trial games last week, Dockrell misses out along with Simi Singh, Barry McCarthy, Peter Chase and Craig Young with Smith and Kane getting the nod because of their better control.

McBrine is certain to play as the one specialist spinner named in the squad - Paul Stirling will be the back-up.

Ten of the squad would appear to pick themselves - with Thompson set to complete the 11 because of his superior batting, and he is in form after hitting back to back centuries for Eglinton and the North West Warriors. Kane and Smith were rewarded for their performance in last week's trial games while Shannon was the reserve batsman throughout the World Cup qualifiers and is still the next cab off the rank.

• Today's NCU Premier League games at Armagh and Carrickfergus have been postponed, along with the games at Downpatrick and Victoria.

Test match squad: W Porterfield (North West, capt), A Balbirnie, E Joyce, T Kane (all Leinster), T Kane (Leinster), A McBrine (North West), T Murtagh (Middlesex), K O'Brien (Leinster), N O'Brien, B Rankin (both North West), J Shannon, N Smith, P Stirling (all NCU), S Thompson (North West), G Wilson (NCU).

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