Cricket Ireland has named a squad of 14 for the two RSA Series One Day Internationals against Pakistan at Stormont on May 28 and 30.
The squad has a familiar look to it, with 13 of the 15 players who competed in the recent World Cup named.
The two missing are Andre Botha who retired earlier this month, and Somerset spinner George Dockrell who hasn’t recovered fully from his dislocated shoulder. Hamish Marshall who became qualified to play for Ireland last month misses out with a fractured right thumb sustained while playing for Gloucestershire against Middlesex.
The one new face in the squad is Strabane opening batsman Niall McDonnell, who scored a century for Ireland A against MCC in Dublin last season.
The 31 year old school teacher was clearly delighted at news of his call-up saying: “I can honestly say that I can’t find a word to describe how I felt when Peter Gillespie rang me; I suppose it was a mixture of excitement, raw nerves and a little trepidation at being involved at this level. It’s a dream come true in many ways and the prospect of batting with the likes of Paul Stirling, William Porterfield or Ed Joyce is some motivation.
“I can’t underestimate the role Adi Birrell and particularly Jeremy Bray have played in my development. Jeremy is so focused on his new role as one of Cricket Ireland’s High Performance Coaches that his determination and enthusiasm just rubs off on everyone he works with. Just being involved with this Ireland squad is an opportunity that I fully intend to make the most of.”
Ireland coach Phil Simmons said of the squad: “There aren’t a lot of surprises as we haven’t had any cricket since the World Cup finished. We’ll train hard in the build-up to the game, and hopefully the conditions at Stormont will suit us. The county players have been playing some excellent cricket, and most of them seem to be in really good form which is encouraging for Irish cricket.
“Everyone is aware of the importance of these games, not just in terms of ranking points, but also in the bigger scheme of things with a decision pending on a qualification tournament for the 2015 World Cup. Two more strong performances against Pakistan will help in that regard.
“The 2007 World Cup win against Pakistan was the catalyst for the exponential growth for Irish cricket. I can see no reason why we can’t repeat that success on home soil given the talent we now possess in our ranks.”
The squad in full is as follows: William Porterfield (Captain) (Warwickshire), Alex Cusack (Clontarf), Trent Johnston (Railway Union), Nigel Jones (Civil Service North), Ed Joyce (Sussex), Niall McDonnell (Strabane), John Mooney (North County), Kevin O`Brien (Gloucestershire), Niall O`Brien (Northants), Boyd Rankin (Warwickshire), Paul Stirling (Middlesex), Albert Van der Merwe (YMCA), Andrew White (Instonians),Gary Wilson (Surrey).