Twenty20 Trophy may unearth some pearls ahead of qualifiers
Talent search moves to shortest form of the game in Inter-Provincial Series
Given the growing number of international fixtures undertaken by the senior Ireland side, it may follow that a huge number of new caps have been handed out in recent years.
Looking back through the new names to come in since Phil Simmons took over after the 2007 World Cup shows that is not the case, with just 26 players being handed their first caps in the last six years.
The settled nature of the senior side since 2007 is testament to the quality of the players, with most of the first team now based in the English county game. Yet vital players have been introduced along the way, with Paul Stirling and George Dockrell both coming in to the senior side as teenagers, while last year both Max Sorensen and Tim Murtagh were amongst five new caps handed out as Simmons continues his search for international standard pace bowlers.
The introduction of the RSA Inter-Provincial Series has certainly helped the selectors widen the talent search ahead of a busy second half of the year that will see Ireland try and seal qualification for both the 50-over and Twenty20 World Cups.
Today sees the third part of the competition get underway when the Leinster Lightning host both the North West Warriors (12.30) and Northern Knights (5.0) in two Inter-Provincial Trophy matches at Pembroke Cricket Club in Sandymount.
It’s a competition that will be closely followed by Simmons and his selectors, with the Twenty20 game often showcasing raw talent far quicker than other forms of the game.
One of those may well be 16-year-old off-spinner William McBrine, who has been handed a last-minute call-up to the Warriors squad following a great start to the season with Donemana.
A son of former Ireland international Junior McBrine and brother of fellow Warriors player Andy, he is the leading wicket-taker in the North West with 24 at an average of 12.96, including an incredible nine-wicket haul against Killyclooney in a senior cup game.
William is amongst a number of changes to the Warriors’ squad, with Niall McDonnell missing due to work commitments and Scott Campbell in action with the Ireland under-19 side. Opening bowler Peter Connell has failed to shake off the hamstring injury he picked up in the 50-over loss to Leinster in Malahide at the beginning of the month.
In come the Brigade duo of Ryan Hunter and Gareth McKeegan, Coleraine’s Gareth Burns and Brian Allen of Fox Lodge in what could be a tough assignment against a Lightning side that ran out 149-run winners when they last met.
The home side has also made changes, with Pembroke’s Barry McCarthy in line to make his Inter-Provincial debut on his home ground as a replacement for Tyrone Kane, who is also with the under-19s. Former Pembroke player Stephen Moreton, who is now playing with Leinster, is also a newcomer to a strong squad that features eight senior internationals.
Two interesting inclusions in the Northern Knights squad are Instonians opening bowler Nikolai Smith, a 20-year-old Irish passport holder from South Africa, while Australian-born wicket-keeper Nick Larkin from North Down was handed a late call-up after Chris Dougherty was ruled out.
Tickets for today’s two games cost €10 on the gate and free from under 16s, while those making it down for the second game can get in for €5.
For those unable to make it, the opening game between Leinster Lightning and North West Warriors will be streamed live. In a first for an Irish domestic game, the coverage will feature two cameras and be broadcast in high definition. The action will get underway at 12.20pm and can be viewed at both www.aertv.ie and www.cricketireland.ie.
See squads in Sport in Brief
RSA INTER-PROVINCIAL TROPHY SQUADS
Leinster Lightning: Kevin O’Brien (Railway Union, capt), John Anderson (Merrion), Pat Collins (Railway Union), Alex Cusack (Clontarf), Fintan McAllister (Malahide, wkts), Barry McCarthy (Pembroke), John Mooney (North County), Stephen Moreton (Leinster), Andrew Poynter (Clontarf), Eddie Richardson (North County), Max Sorensen (The Hills), Albert van der Merwe (YMCA).
North West Warriors: Iftikhar Hussain (Fox Lodge, capt), Brian Allen (Fox Lodge), Andrew Britton (Brigade), Gareth Burns (Coleraine), Ricky-Lee Dougherty (Donemana, wkts), Ryan Hunter (Brigade), Andrew McBrine (Donemana), William McBrine (Donemana), Gareth McKeegan (Brigade), David Rankin (Bready), Andrew Riddles (Ardmore), Johnny Thompson (Brigade), Stuart Thompson (Eglinton).
Northern Knights: Andrew White (Instonians, capt), Phil Eaglestone (Waringstown), Nigel Jones (Civil Service North), Nick Larkin (North Down, wkts), Eugene Moleon (Instonians), Lee Nelson (Waringstown), Zach Rushe (Instonians), James Shannon (Instonians), David Simpson (Lisburn), Nikolai Smith (Instonians), Jonny Terrett (North Down), Greg Thompson (Waringstown).
Fixtures (both games at Pembroke CC, Sydney Parade): Leinster Lightning v North West Warriors, 12.30; Leinster Lightning v Northern Knights, 5.0.
HILTON INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL
(at Brandon CC, Durham): NUSC 311-2 (40 ovs) (K Davies 134no, W Ghauri 51), Leinster Development 237 (C McLoughlin 85, J Tector 33, B Hoey 28, L Tucker 26; C Ebdale 3-56, M Bailey 2-46). NUSC won by 74 runs.