Mooney back in Ireland squad for UAE
Cricket:All-rounder John Mooney returns from a hand injury to take his place in a 14-man Ireland squad for the crucial tour of the United Arab Emirates next month.The North County player, who missed the World Twenty20 finals in Sri Lanka with a fractured finger, returns to give Ireland coach Phil Simmons his strongest possible line-up.
Eglinton all-rounder Stuart Thompson replaced Mooney in the squad for the World Twenty20, but misses out on the tour of the UAE with the selectors opting for another specialised batsman in Instonians’ James Shannon.
“It was a difficult decision to leave out Stuart Thompson, but the selectors felt we had enough seam bowling all-rounders in the squad already, so we went for the extra batting cover that James Shannon provides. He’s worked incredibly hard and deserves his chance having missed out on the tour to Sri Lanka,” said Simmons.
The key part of the tour involves two World Cup qualifiers against the UAE in Sharjah, where two victories would leave Ireland on the verge of taking one of the two automatic positions for the 2015 event in Australia and New Zealand.
And Simmons admitted that experience was the key benchmark in selecting the squad.
“These games are vital in our quest to gain one of the two automatic World Cup qualification places,” he added. “When the pressure is on, I’ve found there’s no substitute for experience. Nine of our squad have played for their country 100 times or more, and 11 of them have World Cup experience.”
Ireland will also play an Intercontinental Cup four-day game against the UAE as they look to stay top of table in that competition also and Simmons expects a tough challenge in both competitions.
“The conditions are going to be tough and UAE have shown they’re difficult to beat on home soil with the wins last year against Afghanistan. We’ve an excellent track record against them though, and I’d be confident of picking up the wins we need to stay top of both tables.”
The players will acclimatise and train at the ICC’s Global Cricket Academy in Dubai, before playing a two-day warm-up match against Canada prior to moving to Sharjah.
Ireland squad:William Porterfield (Warwickshire, capt), Alex Cusack (Clontarf), George Dockrell (Somerset), Trent Johnston (YMCA), Ed Joyce (Sussex), John Mooney (North County), Tim Murtagh (Middlesex), Kevin O’Brien (Railway Union), Niall O’Brien (Leicestershire), James Shannon (Instonians), Max Sorensen (The Hills), Paul Stirling (Middlesex), Andrew White (Instonians), Gary Wilson (Surrey).
Ireland’s fixtures: March 8th-9thv Canada (2-day warm-up game); March 12th-15thv UAE, Intercontinental Cup; March 18thv UAE v Ireland (WC qualifier); March 20thv UAE v Ireland (WC qualifier); March 21stv UAE (T20).