Ireland A heading to Sri Lanka
Thu, Dec 12, 2013 8:35 AM
The chance to earn a place at the ICC World T20 in Bangladesh will be the carrot dangling in front of a star-studded Ireland A team when they embark on a two-week tour of Sri Lanka in the New Year.
The squad will undergo a training camp under the watchful eyes of head coach Phil Simmons and his assistant Peter Johnston. In addition there will be four games - two 50-overs and two T20s - against local opponents.
"It's a great opportunity for these players to show me just what they're capable of," Simmons, who signed a new two-year deal with Cricket Ireland at the weekend, said. "There are spots on the touring squads available and the extra motivation of going to a World Cup."
"It's always good to get a look at players in different conditions and under the pressure of playing abroad on unfamiliar pitches. There's a healthy competition for places amongst Irish players now, and we have genuine depth to add to the quality that was always there."
"There's no doubt that Sri Lanka will prove a challenging environment with their traditionally spin-friendly pitches, but it's ideal in that it will be similar to what we'll face in Bangladesh in March."
Simmons revealed that the selectors opted against calling up pacemen Craig Young, Graeme McCarter and Peter Chase, who are currently in Australia.
"We felt their cricket education would be better served by finishing their placements in Brisbane, working with Craig McDermott. With the 2015 World Cup there, we want to get a better idea of how the trio adapt and play in Antipodean conditions," he said.
Eight of the squad have senior international experience, with Clontarf all rounder Andrew Poynter being entrusted with the captain's armband. He will have plenty of spin options at his disposal, with himself, Andrew Balbirnie, James Cameron-Dow, Andrew McBrine and James Shannon all included.
Stuart Poynter, who earlier this year signed a two-year deal with Durham, is named wicket-keeper. Chris Dougherty will occupy one of the opening slots, although John Anderson is unavailable and misses out.
There are plenty of seam bowling options too, with the experienced Phil Eaglestone included, alongside all-rounders Stuart Thompson, Barry McCarthy, Eddie Richardson and Tyrone Kane.
Senior spin bowler George Dockrell, who is expected to play a major role in the World T20s, will travel with the touring party but won't take an active part in any of the four scheduled matches.
IRELAND A SQUAD FOR SRI LANKA TOUR (January 1-15)
Andrew Poynter (captain) (Clontarf), Andrew Balbirnie (Pembroke/Middlesex), James Cameron-Dow (North Down), Chris Dougherty (CIYMS), Phil Eaglestone (Waringstown), Tyrone Kane (Merrion), Andrew McBrine (Donemana), Stuart Poynter (Durham), Eddie Richardson (North County), James Shannon (Instonians), Stuart Thompson (Eglinton), Barry McCarthy (Pembroke).