Ireland cricket captain William Porterfield is aiming high at World Cup
After an injury-free 25 days, Cricket Ireland have confirmed that the Ireland squad currently in Dubai preparing for four one-day internationals against Scotland and Afghanistan will be the 15 for the ICC World Cup, starting next month.
At least two reserves, who will be based in Australia, have still to be named, but it is almost certain that Max Sorensen, the unluckiest player not to make the final 15, and new Coleraine signing Graeme McCarter, will be included.
If a batting reserve is also chosen then Andrew or Stuart Poynter will fill that gap although in a squad full of specialist batsmen and all-rounders that is not top of Ireland's priorities.
Australian-born Nick Larkin, who made his Irish debut against Sri Lanka A in July, is playing Grade cricket in his home country. Having been named in the squad of 30 from which replacement players must be chosen, he is match-fit and a short flight away.
William Porterfield, one of five players, along with Kevin and Niall O'Brien, Ed Joyce and John Mooney who will play in their third World Cup, is captain for the second successive event.
"We've produced some wonderful performances over the years in World Cups and there's no reason why we can't claim further successes in Australia and New Zealand," said Porterfield.
"While we may have lost the surprise factor over the years, we've gained a lot of respect for our brand of cricket, which has been pretty pleasing."
Porterfield arrived in Dubai on Sunday night with the other England-based professionals for the ODIs, but he had to wait 24 hours for his team mates as fog in the Emirates led to the squad's flight out of Dublin being cancelled. They eventually arrived last night on a flight from Amsterdam.
The Dubai squad is expanded by five pace bowlers, Sorensen, McCarter, Eddie Richardson, Tyrone Kane and Barry McCarthy, who will be used as net bowlers as well as working on their own programme with Craig Hogan, CI's National Academy Manager.
Ireland have three games in Australia before their first World Cup game on February 16 against West Indies, the last two official warm-ups against Scotland and Bangladesh on February 10 and 12, but the squad will be targeting four wins in Dubai in the Tri-Series with their fellow World Cup qualifiers, to claim vital ranking points and assert their position as the leading Associate Nation.
World Cup squad: W Porterfield (capt), A Balbirnie, P Chase, A Cusack, G Dockrell, E Joyce, A McBrine, J Mooney, T Murtagh, K O'Brien, N O'Brien, P Stirling, S Thompson, G Wilson, C Young.
Ireland's Tri-series fixtures (all games in Dubai): Jan 10 v Afghanistan (D/N) Jan 12 v Scotland (D/N), Jan 17 v Afghanistan, Jan 19 v Scotland.