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He's played for England and Ireland at a WC but now Ed Joyce is intent on leaving his mark

The batsman spoke to The42 about his determination to make an impression on the global stage for the country of his birth.

Joyce sporting the new Ireland jersey for the World Cup.
Joyce sporting the new Ireland jersey for the World Cup.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

FOR ED JOYCE, each of the last two Cricket World Cups have proved to be defining junctures in an international career that has spanned over two different centuries.

In 2007, nearly a decade after making his international debut for Ireland, he became the first Irishman to wear the Three Lions of England at the sport’s show-piece event in the Caribbean.

It was, by his own admission, a road he wished he didn’t have to go down but with Ireland still very much on an amateur footing and in the infancy, if that, of its cricketing development, it was seen as the next – or only – career progression.

Joyce’s England career, despite showing glimpses of the form that had earned him a call-up, didn’t advance as he would have hoped but on the back of receiving special dispensation from the International Cricket Council Joyce returned to represent the country of his birth, and heart, in India/Bangladesh four years ago.

It was a tournament he presumed would be his last. But, with just a handful of days until Ireland open their World Cup campaign against West Indies, Joyce, at 36, is arguably in the best form of his career.

“I never thought I would get the chance to play at another World Cup,” he told The42 ahead of Ireland’s departure for Australia/New Zealand. “But I probably feel better now than I did before the last one.

“I know my body better than anyone else and it’s been good over the last two-three years but that’s not to say it won’t go kaput at any stage.”

Bangladesh ICC Cricket T20 WCup Joyce has become a key cog in the Irish wheel since returning to the green Source: AP/Press Association Images

Certainly, Ireland’s chances of making an impression on the global stage will, by and large, pivot on the Joyce’s form and fitness.  The Wicklow-born batsman is coming off the back of a bountiful season in England, scoring more than 2,000 runs for Sussex including eight first-class centuries.

“I’ve played well over the last couple of years,” he acknowledges. “I’d like to think I can get that form going but I always feel if you start tournaments or seasons well, it takes the pressure of you for the rest of it so I’m personally targeting that first game and if I can get a score then push on.”

While Joyce’s stint in an English shirt was short-lived (he played just 17 games), there has never been ever any doubt about his talent. The captaincy at Sussex has concentrated his efforts and he’s matured into one of the county circuit’s most prolific batsmen.

Last season, one of the England selectors, Angus Fraser, admitted Joyce would have been selected for the Test team had he’d been still available for selection. Aesthetically speaking, Joyce has all the traits to thrive in the longer-format but he’s just as effective against the white-ball.

“I should stand-out in the conditions we’ll be playing in,” Joyce says. “At this stage of my career, I’ve now got that extra spring in my step and enjoying the extra responsibility captaincy brings. It seems to have done good things for my batting.”

Cricket Ireland CEO Warren Deutrom today confessed anything less than progression from Pool B would be seen as failure for Phil Simmons’ side.

It’s likely they’ll need three victories in order to advance and the first outing, against a West Indies outfit embroiled in turmoil, is widely acknowledged as the perfect opportunity to upset the established order and take a significant step towards the knock-out stages.

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For Joyce, and indeed those that were involved in 2011, there is a determination to eradicate the disappointment of four years ago when Ireland squandered the chance to beat the Windies – a victory that would have been enough to qualify for the quarter-finals.

Ed Joyce The Sussex captain is hoping to make a big impression on the global stage for Ireland Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Joyce scored 84 that day and he feels the team will have learnt a great deal not just from that defeat but the abrupt exit from last year’s World Twenty20.

“We really should have won that game,” The 36-year-old says, still with an element of regret in his voice. “We bowled well to restrict them and we were in a good position but that extra pressure told.

“I’d like to think if it happened again we’d get across the line. West Indies cricket is in a bit of turmoil at the moment, they’ve a few players that they haven’t selected and we’re happy they haven’t selected but they’re still a formidable team and will go into the game favourites but it’s good to get them first up.”

Ireland arrived in Sydney last weekend for an intensive 10-day period of preparations before the first match in Nelson on 16 February. Two official warm-up games against Bangladesh and Scotland will offer the batsmen, in particular, the chance to attune to conditions and dust off the cobwebs that have built up over the winter.

With pitches in both New Zealand and Australia historically flat and batsmen friendly, there is an assumption that this will be a particularly high-scoring World Cup, keeping in line with the recent trend of bat dominating ball.

Should that be the case, the onus will be on Ireland’s undercooked top-order to build a platform and Joyce’s role, in underpinning the innings from number three, will be crucial.

“Realistically, we’re going to have to get 260-300 in most games whether we’re chasing or setting a total to give ourselves any chance.

“That means the top three or four need to get big scores every game. We know that and we just need to make sure that doesn’t mean we play within ourselves.”

You can follow all the build-up to the Cricket World Cup on The42 here.

- Originally published 1700

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