Kevin O’Brien is the biggest name to miss out as Cricket Ireland has announced the list of players awarded central contracts for the coming season and beyond.
The Railway Union clubman was dropped from the senior squad following October’s T20 World Cup exit. He retired from 50 over cricket last year though he has made his aspirations for a recall to Ireland’s T20 side well known. He will be playing for the Munster Reds in this season’s interprovincial series after moving from the Leinster Lightning.
O’Brien is Ireland’s leading appearance maker and he is the only Irish batter to have scored a century in Test, One Day International and T20 cricket. He is one of only 18 men to do so across all of international cricket.
The 37 year old holds the record for the fastest hundred at a World Cup, bringing it up off 50 balls during Ireland’s famous win over England in 2011. He also scored to date Ireland’s sole Test century during a 2018 fixture against Pakistan.
O’Brien is the only man to lose a central contract from last year as George Dockrell, Shane Getkate, Neil Rock and Ben White have all been promoted from retainer contracts.
19 players have been awarded central deals in total, with 12 of these being for two years in order to include potential qualification for the 2023 World Cup.
Speaking on the omission of O’Brien, chair of selectors Andrew White suggested did not rule out the possibility of a recall. “Kevin knows that the door is still open and he is still on the selectors radar” said White. “He has made it clear he has the desire to stake a claim for a recall, and we look forward to seeing him back in action at the interpro level come May.”
Meanwhile, Gary Wilson and Ryan Eagleson have been appointed to full-time roles in the men’s coaching staff. Wilson has been named high performance batting and wicketkeeping coach while Eagleson takes up a similar role with a mandate for seam bowling.
Both men were part of interim head coach David Ripley’s staff that oversaw Ireland’s successful T20 World Cup qualification bid in Oman last month. They will stay on with the group once new head coach Heinrich Malan takes up his position.
Cricket Ireland has also released its full fixture list for the upcoming domestic men’s interpro season. The campaign gets underway with the 50 over competition in early May and concludes with the final game of the T20 competition at the end of July, just days before the national team travels to Bristol to take on South Africa.
The Leinster Lightning kick the season off as they host the North West Warriors at Pembroke in Sandymount on May 3rd.
As expected, there are no first-class red ball games on the schedule with games in just the white ball T20 and 50 over formats being played.