Rock to make his international debut as Ireland face Zimbabwe at Clontarf

Ireland begin countdown to World Cup with first of five T20 internationals

Neil Rock: the 20-year-old left-handed batsman will replace Lorcan Tucker behind the stumps as Ireland host Zimbabwe. Photograph: Oisin Keniry/Inpho

Neil Rock: the 20-year-old left-handed batsman will replace Lorcan Tucker behind the stumps as Ireland host Zimbabwe. Photograph: Oisin Keniry/Inpho

 

Neil Rock will make his senior international debut when Ireland face Zimbabwe at Castle Avenue on Friday in the first of five T20 internationals.

Captain Andrew Balbirnie confirmed at his pre-series press conference that the 20-year-old left-handed batsman will replace Lorcan Tucker behind the stumps as Ireland begin the final countdown to the T20 World Cup in October, and Curtis Campher will play his first T20 International after 10 one-day international appearances.

“It’s our first chance to see Neil playing international cricket. He has impressed a lot of us in the squad and the management as well, so it’s really exciting for him,” said Balbirnie, who added that all 16 players in the squad will be involved at some stage over the next nine days.

Following the disappointing 3-0 clean sweep defeat by South Africa last month – and with the World Cup starting in just 52 days’ time – Balbirnie knows it is a case of the whole squad stepping up.

“We know we have Paul Stirling, Kevin O’Brien and Josh Little who can win us games of cricket but we want to have 15 players who can do that and that is the main objective of the series. Naturally you want to win every game you play but performance and belief are two of the big areas that we want to see this week.

“There are a lot of young guys in the squad who haven’t played as much T20 cricket as we would like going into a World Cup, so we want to try and give them a good taste of it this week so when it comes around they know what they need to do and they have something in the memory bank to prove they can do it.”

Kevin O’Brien has to dig deep into his memory bank to remember the last time he scored more than two runs for Ireland - January 8, seven innings ago! - but Balbirnie is backing him to come good.

“It’s five games for him to find his form again and along with Paul they are such important players for us, they are two of the better strikers we have,” added the captain.

Zimbabwe are not in the T20 World Cup so Balbirnie expects them to be building for the future, but he noted they beat Bangladesh in a T20I in their last but one T20I and with new captain Craig Ervine, who missed that series after being a close contact of a Covid positive added to an unchanged squad, Ireland can take nothing for granted as they try to get back on the winning trail.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.