Ireland Cricket World Cup squad takes shape

Squad named for warm up ODIs against Afghanistan and Scotland in Dubai

Although Ireland will not officially name their World Cup squad until early next month, the 15 players named on Thursday for four warm-up One-Day Internationals in Dubai in January look set to represent the country in Australia and New Zealand in February.

Cricket Ireland have until January 6th to submit their final 15 to the International Cricket Council, but with the Irish party departing for Dubai two days previously for games against Afghanistan and Scotland, it looks like only injury will see any changes to Phil Simmons’s squad.

After what chairman of selectors Alan Lewis, described as "the toughest selection meeting I've been involved with", there was no place for seamer Max Sorensen and batsman Andrew Poynter, with Middlesex batsman Andrew Balbirnie and Durham paceman Peter Chase receiving the early Christmas presents.

Balbirnie has been the outstanding batsman on Ireland’s tours to Australia and New Zealand and the recent games against New Zealand ‘A’ in Dubai, where he scored his first international century. With the ability and experience to cover both top- and middle-order batting positions, the 23-year-old from the Pembroke club also bowls off-spin.


Sorensen's wrist injury in final ODI against Scotland in September saw him ruled out of the acclimatisation tour to Australia and New Zealand and the performances of Chase and Craig Young, with nine and 11 wickets respectively, have edged them ahead of him.

Meteoric rise

Chase has enjoyed a meteoric rise, since breaking through to the Durham first team and his extra height and bounce are seen as key attributes for the pitches in Australia.

Simmons has decided to go with two front-line spinners in George Dockrell and Andrew McBrine, with Andrew White missing out after his tour was ended by a broken finger against Queensland.

With seven of the squad under the age of 25, a backbone for future tournaments is in place, with the experience coming in the fact that five players will be playing their third 50-overs World Cup. Skipper William Porterfield, John Mooney and the O'Brien brothers, have played in all three for Ireland, while Ed Joyce played with England in 2007, before returning for Ireland in 2011.

Delighted players battled so hard to make the squad, Simmons pointed out, “it was a very difficult decision for the selectors to leave out Max Sorensen and Andrew Poynter, but this just shows the competition for places in the squad” .

“There is a nice balance to the squad, which has a huge wealth of experience, but also a few young guns. Andrew Balbirnie’s form with the bat has been outstanding.

“Craig Young has been fantastic since he broke into the team, while Peter with his pace and extra bounce, is important for the type of Australian wickets we will play on in the UAE.”

Ireland’s opening World Cup game against West Indies is on February 16th in Nelson, New Zealand.

Emmet Riordan

Emmet Riordan

Emmet Riordan is an Irish Times sports journalist