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Cricket World Cup: Ireland turn to the big guns

Phil Simmons

National coach Phil Simmons still hopes to name a first choice squad of 15 for the World Cup in Asia starting in February.

The provisional 22-man panel, announced yesterday, includes all the expected names including Regan West who, because of injury, has not played for his adopted country since August last year.

Simmons has always said that he will give his most experienced slow bowler to the last possible day to prove he can play a part in the finals and the Civil Service North slow left armer — Ireland’s leading wicket-taker in 2009 — is duly named in the squad from which the final 15 must be named on January 20.

West has had four shoulder operations in an effort to bring him back to full fitness and Simmons said yesterday that West was “working hard” and was “still hopeful that he’ll make it.”

Nine of the squad played at the last World Cup, including Ed Joyce who was in the England team that played Ireland in Guyana. This time the Dubliner will be back in his true colours and will surely be Ireland’s biggest asset in Bangladesh and India — although the same was said about Eoin Morgan in 2007 and he failed to score 100 runs in the nine matches. The provisional squad includes all but three of the players who were capped this year with 19-year-old Andrew Balbirnie the most surprising omission after making his full debut in the European Championships.

North Down’s Peter Connell and Waringstown’s Gary Kidd are the others who would appear to have a bleak international future.

Ireland play Bangladesh in Dhaka on February 25 and then travel to India where they will play the other teams in their group, including three of the world's top five, India, South Africa and England plus West Indies and the Netherlands.

Ireland’s World Cup provisional squad: W Porterfield (capt), A Botha, A Cusack, G Dockrell, P Eaglestone, A Eastwood, J Hall, T Johnston, N Jones, E Joyce, R McCann, J Mooney, K O’Brien, N O’Brien, A Poynter, B Rankin, P Stirling, A van der Merwe, R West, G Wilson, A White, C Young.

Belfast Telegraph