Ireland cricket tour to the USA suffers Covid-19 disruption

Key batter Gareth Delany set to miss two T20 internationals in Florida

Ireland have been hit by a number of Covid-19 disruptions for the five-match tour in the USA over the Christmas period.

Six players and coaches have been affected in all, though the squad remains unchanged as no new players have been called up to replace those who are isolating.

Bowler Barry McCarthy and all-rounder George Dockrell have both tested positive before the group travelled to Florida on Thursday. It appears that these positives came last week as both will be able to join up with the squad in a few days once they have completed their isolation period. It seems likely they will not miss any game time.

Batters Gareth Delany and Harry Tector were already in Florida having competed in the US Open T20 competition. They too have tested positive and will have to isolate for 10 days.

The first two games of the tour are T20s and Tector was not selected in the squad for that format. His availability for the first ODI on St Stephen’s Day depends on the timing of post-isolation testing.

Delany, who was due to bat at three in the T20s, will now miss those two games. It comes as a blow to Ireland after he performed very well at that position in American conditions at the US Open. He is not in the ODI squad and now it appears that he will not play until the West Indies leg of the tour in January.

It is unclear at this stage who will replace him in the batting order. Captain Andrew Balbirnie was in that spot during the recent World Cup, but he has been slated to move up the order to open with Paul Stirling after Kevin O'Brien was left out.

George Dockrell, William McClintock, Neil Rock, Simi Singh, Curtis Campher, Lorcan Tucker and Shane Getkate are Ireland's other options with the bat. All of these have traditionally played in the middle order in the past.

William Porterfield, arguably Ireland's most experienced top order player, is in the ODI squad and both groups travelled together.

Elsewhere, bowler Craig Young has been identified as a close contact just before travelling to America. Based in Northern Ireland, under rules in that jurisdiction he cannot travel for 10 days, provided he returns a negative PCR result.

Young will miss the T20 series and potentially the first ODI, again depending on the timing of testing.

Assistant coach Gary Wilson has returned a suspected false positive, meaning he did not travel with the squad on Thursday. Providing he tests negative as suspected, he will travel on Sunday.

The good news is that Josh Little is available to join up with the T20 squad to bolster the bowling ranks. Initially he was due to only play in the ODIs due to commitments in the Lanka Premier League in Sri Lanka. His side, the Dambulla Giants, have at least one game left in Sunday’s eliminator, but it appears as if they are happy to let Little go early seeing as he has only appeared in two games so far.