Ireland assistant coach Gary Wilson has insisted they are not treating this week’s one-off Test with England as “irrelevant” despite the absence of Josh Little.
Seamer Little will sit out the Lord’s clash in order to rest ahead of next month’s World Cup qualifying tournament in Zimbabwe following a busy first half of 2023 where the Indian Premier League was among his commitments.
Cricket Ireland’s high performance director Richard Holdsworth addressed Little’s omission last week and while he stated playing England was a special occasion, he admitted “it’s not a pinnacle event” with the main current focus on white-ball cricket.
Nevertheless, batting and wicketkeeper coach Wilson is adamant captain Andrew Balbirnie’s team will be right up for the occasion when play gets under way on Thursday.
“I don’t think we are coming here thinking this game is irrelevant or has no meaning,” Wilson said.
“We don’t want to take anything out of context, that this game is pointless and that the qualifiers are all we’re thinking about this year, because as a group we want to win every game we play.
“If we aren’t quite at the races, we will find ourselves under the pump very quickly with the way England play, so we’ll be right up for the occasion.”
This will be Ireland’s fourth Test of 2023 after a one-off red-ball encounter in Bangladesh was followed by a two-match series against Sri Lanka.
Before this year, Ireland’s most recent experience of the longest format of the game had been a dramatic fixture at Lord’s in 2019.
England were all out for 85 on day one before they bounced back to win by 143 runs but this is a vastly different team with a new “Bazball” approach under Brendon McCullum and Ben Stokes taking the nation by storm.
Wilson added: “There’s been a lot of chat about the way they’re playing now and their so-called Bazball, but if we try and play our game and back our skill level, which the lads have shown especially individually over the last 18 months, I think we definitely have a chance to get a favourable result here.”
Little’s absence severely hampers Ireland’s hopes but Wilson backed Mark Adair to impress after he claimed six wickets in 2019.
“If you take Josh Little out of any side, I think you would feel his absence,” Wilson conceded.
“Mark Adair was here four years ago and had a great Test match then so we’ll be looking for more of the same.”