Niall O’Brien has been left out of the Irish squad, announced by Cricket Ireland’s selectors for the tour to Kenya which will include the third round of the ICC Intercontinental Cup four-day match, two World Cup qualifying ODI’s as part of the ICC 50 over League, and three T20I’s, which will serve as preparation for the upcoming ICC World T20 Qualifiers. The omission of O’Brien has stunned Irish cricket followers.
The selectors have also announced a provisional squad for 17 players (subject to ICC approving all player eligibility as is standard) for the ICC World T20 Qualifier in UAE and a final squad of 14 will be selected from this by February 12th. This squad will also participate in a warm-up preparation camp in Port Elizabeth, South Africa.
In announcing the squads national coach Phil Simmons commented: “It’s a strong squad with the majority of the players having served us so well over the past few years. (13 of the 17 players named were in the 2011 World Cup squad). Max Sorensen and James Shannon are the only ones who haven’t played at senior level, but they’re both exciting talents whom I’m sure will acquit themselves well if needed. Rory McCann came in when Niall O’Brien and Gary Wilson were unavailable during the World Cricket League in 2010, and performed well behind the stumps, helping us win that tournament with an unbeaten record.”
He added: “There were difficult matters for the selectors to discuss regarding Niall O’Brien’s availability. They took on board Niall’s offer to play in only the ODI’s in Kenya, join the squad for part of the South Africa camp, and then the ICC World T20 Qualifier. However the selectors remained consistent to their principle, regarding that all players must be available for all parts of the tour. Niall was not able to make himself available for the whole tour and therefore the selectors have decided not to select him for any part of the tour including the ICC World T20 Qualifier.
“We are only selecting for this tour and the next selection will be for the RSA Challenge ODI versus Australia in June; at that point they will consider all available players.
“Niall has communicated that he still wishes to play for Ireland and the selectors will take that into consideration when they next meet.”
The selectors also discussed Middlesex player Tim Murtagh. Following consultation with ICC, he is unavailable for selection until his Irish passport has been processed, although the formalities of his Irish citizenship have been confirmed. However Cricket Ireland has clarified that should the selectors wish to bring Murtagh into the final squad of 14 for the ICC World T20 Qualifier that remains an option assuming his passport has arrived before the ICC deadline of February 12th.
The squads in full are as follows:
Ireland squad to tour Kenya
William Porterfield (Warwickshire) (captain), Alex Cusack (Clontarf), George Dockrell (Somerset), Trent Johnston (Railway Union), Nigel Jones (CSN)*, Ed Joyce (Sussex), John Mooney (North County), Rory McCann (Instonians), Kevin O’Brien (Railway Union), Boyd Rankin (Warwickshire), Max Sorensen (The Hills), Paul Stirling (Middlesex), Albert van der Merwe* (YMCA), Andrew White (Instonians), Gary Wilson (Surrey).
*Albert van der Merwe will only play in the Intercontinental Cup match and Nigel Jones will join the squad from the 15th Feb to take part in the ODI’s and T20’s.
Ireland squad for training camp in South Africa and ICC World T20 Qualifier in the UAE
William Porterfield (Warwickshire) (captain), Alex Cusack (Clontarf), George Dockrell (Somerset), Trent Johnston (Railway Union), Nigel Jones (CSN), Ed Joyce (Sussex), John Mooney (North County), Rory McCann (Instonians), Kevin O’Brien (Railway Union), Andrew Poynter (Clontarf), Boyd Rankin (Warwickshire), James Shannon (Instonians), Max Sorensen (The Hills), Paul Stirling (Middlesex), Albert van der Merwe (YMCA), Andrew White (Instonians), Gary Wilson (Surrey).
Ireland fixtures and itinerary are as follows:
Kenya (Intercontinental Cup) Feb 12-15
Kenya (ODI’s) Feb 18 and 20
Kenya (T20’s) Feb 22, 23 and 24.
South Africa training camp (Feb 25 – March 10)
UAE (ICC World Twenty20 Qualifiers) (March 11-24)