Exactly nine months before Ireland’s first game in the 2011 ICC World Cup in Bangladesh, Sussex's Ed Joyce has confirmed he wants to be in the team.
Joyce, who turns 32 in September, made his debut for Ireland in 1997 but, four years and 36 matches later he declared his hand and began his qualification period with the ambition of playing Test cricket for England.
He failed in that objective but played 17 one-day internationals for England, including the World Cup match against Ireland in Guyana three years ago.
However, he has not represented England since and with the incentive of another appearance on the world stage with his native country, the day after Ireland’s latest England star, Eoin Morgan, was named in the Test match squad for this week’s game against Bangladesh, Joyce has turned his back on England.
“When I made the decision in 2001 to try and play for England, it was with a view to playing Test cricket which is the pinnacle of the game and which of course Ireland doesn't play,” Joyce said.
“While I strongly believe I'm good enough to play Test cricket for England, I’ve taken the decision now to try and play for Ireland again. There are a few reasons for this, with the most obvious being that I’m a born and bred Irishman.
“Secondly, I feel I have a lot to offer to Irish cricket. I had a very successful 2009 with Sussex winning the Most Valuable Player award for the Friends Provident Trophy and also two winners medals in the Twenty:20 Cup and Nat West Pro40 competition.
“I feel I’m playing the best cricket of my career and would like to bring this form with me to help Ireland be even more successful on the world stage, a success which I am committed to running in tandem with my Sussex career, in the same way that other Irish players have satisfied club and country commitments really well.”
“Lastly, I've spoken a lot to (Cricket Ireland chief executive) Warren Deutrom, (operations director) Mark Garaway and several of the players and know how ambitious everyone within Cricket Ireland is for the development of the game in the country. With this in mind, I still harbour ambitions of playing at the top level of the game but those ambitions are firmly rooted in playing it for Ireland.”
Joyce will become the sixth county professional in the Ireland squad — captain William Porterfield, Niall O’Brien, Boyd Rankin, Gary Wilson and Paul Stirling are the others — but he will be not be available to play for Ireland until next year’s World Cup, at the earliest.
Under the present ruling, players have to wait four years after playing for a full member before re-qualifying for an associate country and Joyce’s last game for England was on April 4, 2007.
Work is going on behind the scenes between Cricket Ireland and ICC to claim special circumstances for Joyce, who last played for Ireland in the World Cup qualifying tournament in 2005, and try to ensure he is available for Ireland’s next World Cup campaign.
National coach Phil Simmons, however, is already looking forward to selecting a player who has the second best career average for Ireland (37.20).
“It’s fantastic news that Ed has decided to play for Ireland again. He’s a superb cricketer and will be a great boost to have a player of his calibre in the team,” he said.
Former former New Zealand Test player Hamish Marshall, an Irish passport holder, has also declared for Ireland this year.