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Dublin: 11°C Thursday 6 May 2021

Ireland's World Cup squad takes shape as Ed Joyce returns for final warm-up series

Phil Simmons’ side will play Scotland and Afghanistan in the New Year as part of their preparation.

Joyce has been undergoing treatment back in the UK.
Joyce has been undergoing treatment back in the UK.
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

WHILE IRELAND’S FINAL squad for next year’s World Cup doesn’t need to be submitted until the New Year, head coach Phil Simmons has given the clearest indication yet of the players who will be on the plane to Australia/New Zealand in early February.

After a spate of untimely injuries had left Simmons devoid of several of his front line players for the recent acclimatisation and preparatory tours, Ireland’s ranks have been reinforced by the return of Ed Joyce and Middlesex bowler Tim Murtagh.

Both have been included in the 15-man panel to face Scotland and Afghanistan in four One-Day Internationals in January, a series which will act as the final opportunity to fine-tune the means ahead of Ireland’s third World Cup appearance.

Joyce missed the tour of Australia/New Zealand and the series against New Zealand A last month in a bid to recuperate after a taxing county season in England. Similarly, Murtagh was given permission to stay in the UK and receive treatment on a troublesome knee.

William Porterfield, as expected, will once again skipper the side, allaying any concerns of his fitness after the opening batsman flew home from Hamilton in October due to personal reasons.

Porterfield returned for the two fixtures against New Zealand A last month along with Paul Stirling, who has been beset by back problems.

While the backbone of the side has been set in stone for some time, there were still several places, particularly in the bowling department, to be filled. Andrew Balbirne’s excellent run of form – including a century against New Zealand A – has cemented his spot while Durham fast-bowler Peter Chase and Craig Young have been given the nod over Max Sorensen and Graeme McCarter.

John Mooney and Andrew Balbirnie John Mooney and Middlesex's Andrew Balbirnie have been named in the squad Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

“There is a nice balance to the squad, which has a huge wealth of experience, but also a few young guns,” Simmons said. “Andrew Balbirnie’s form with the bat has been outstanding, with excellent performances in Australasia and in Dubai recently. His runs on tour have helped him force his way into the squad.”

“It was a very difficult decision for the selectors to leave out Max Sorensen and Andrew Poynter but this just shows the competition for places in the squad.”

Fresh from enjoying a short stint playing for the Northern Districts in New Zealand’s domestic T20 competition, Kevin O’Brien is one of nine players who were involved in the famous win over England four years ago set to feature in Australasia.

Ireland begin their World Cup campaign against West Indies in Nelson on 16 February with their final 15-man squad set to be announced in January.

Ireland Squad: William Porterfield (Warwickshire, captain), Andrew Balbirnie (Middlesex), Peter Chase (Malahide), Alex Cusack (Clontarf), George Dockrell (Somerset), Ed Joyce (Sussex), Andrew McBrine (Donemana), John Mooney (North County), Tim Murtagh (Middlesex), Kevin O’Brien (Railway Union), Niall O’Brien (Leicestershire), Paul Stirling (Middlesex), Stuart Thompson (Eglinton), Gary Wilson (Surrey), Craig Young (Bready).

Originally published at 14.38

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