Ireland men to return to action with January tour to Zimbabwe

Stirling, Little and Campher set to miss T20s but return to international action in ODIs

The Ireland men’s cricket team will return to action for the first time since a successful T20 World Cup campaign after the dates of their white-ball tour to Zimbabwe have been confirmed for January. The tour consists of three T20Is and three One Day Internationals (ODIs) to be played from January 12th-23rd. As expected, there is no Test match as part of this tour, with Ireland instead slated to return to the longest format in March away to Bangladesh.

All fixtures will be played at the Harare Sports Club, with the T20s taking place on January 12th, 14th and 15th, the ODIs following on January 18th, 20th and 23rd.

Ireland last played Zimbabwe during the recent T20 World Cup, losing their opening game of the tournament to the African side at the Bellerive Oval in Hobart before recovering with wins over Scotland and West Indies to progress to the next stage of the tournament.

The T20 portion of the upcoming tour looks to be a chance for Ireland to rotate their squad given the likely absence of big names due to franchise commitments. At present, Josh Little is due to play for the Pretoria Capitals in the new SA20 competition starting on January 10th, while Paul Stirling is set to line out for the Abu Dhabi Knight Riders in the UAE-based International League T20. That competition gets underway on January 13th. Curtis Campher, if he recovers in time from a side injury, is set to play for the Chattogram Challengers in the Bangladesh Premier League from January 5th to February 16th.

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Cricket Ireland has given players involved in such domestic tournaments permission to miss the T20 section of the tour given it is not a World Cup year for that format. At present, only Little, Stirling and Campher - if fit - will skip the initial stages of the Zimbabwe tour but it remains to be seen if other Irish players will earn franchise contracts as international replacements.

However, given there is an ODI World Cup later this year and Ireland face a battle for qualification, the squad is expected to be at full strength for the second half of the Zimbabwe tour. Those matches do not count towards World Cup qualification but are seen as an opportunity to find a settled side and prepare for games later this year that will determine if Ireland reach the tournament which will take place in India next October.

Broadcast details for the matches in Zimbabwe are yet to be announced.

Ireland white-ball tour of Zimbabwe

1st T20I: January 12th, Harare Sports Ground, 11am Irish time

2nd T20I: January 14th, Harare Sports Ground, 11am Irish time

3rd T20I: January 15th, Harare Sports Ground, 11am Irish time

1st ODI: January 18th, Harare Sports Ground, 7.15am Irish time

2nd ODI: January 20th, Harare Sports Ground, 7.15am Irish time

3rd ODI: January 23rd, Harare Sports Ground, 7.15am Irish time

Nathan Johns

Nathan Johns is an Irish Times journalist