Ireland have selected a full-strength squad for their Intercontinental Cup fixture with Afghanistan in March, with legspinner Jacob Mulder in line for a first-class debut. Ed Joyce, Niall O’Brien and Tim Murtagh are also included, having missed the Desert T20 – where Ireland lost to Afghanistan in the final – earlier this month.
Ireland are currently top of the Intercontinental Cup table with four wins from four, leading Afghanistan by 19 points. The Intercontinental Cup is expected to provide a pathway into Test cricket, with the winner facing a play-off with the lowest-ranked Test nation in 2018.
Ahead of the four-day match, Ireland and Afghanistan will play three T20s and five ODIs; all of the fixtures will take place in Greater Noida, India. Two ODIs have also been arranged against UAE on March 2 and 4 as part of Ireland’s training camp.
“It’s great to have such a wealth of experience to choose from,” Ireland’s head coach, John Bracewell, said. “We had a full squad available which hasn’t been the case with injuries in recent times but it’s great to have everyone back with such a busy programme in March.
“While we haven’t been at our best in limited-overs cricket in recent times we have a great record in the Intercontinental Cup where we’ve won all our four games taking full points.
“The players are all fully focused on winning the competition for a fifth time, especially with the chance of playing Test cricket on offer. Ed Joyce has been in supreme form in the tournament with two double hundreds and he clearly looks like a man on a mission.
“Young Jacob Mulder was the stand-out bowler in the T20 and the selectors felt he deserved his opportunity in the longer format. With the conditions in India likely to be spin-friendly his legspin gives us added variety which could be so important.”
Boyd Rankin will be rested for the matches in the UAE, but will join up with Ireland during the 10-day training camp to prepare for the Afghanistan games.
Australia-born batsman Nick Larkin, who played twice for Ireland in 2014, has however ruled himself out of involvement for the time being.
“After a lengthy period of discussion between Cricket Ireland and Nick Larkin, the player has finally clarified that his focus right now is on advancing his career with the NSW Blues in Australia,” Cricket Ireland’s performance director, Richard Holdsworth, said. “He is contracted there until 2018 and is not therefore available for Ireland during that period.”
Ireland Intercontinental Cup squad: William Porterfield, John Anderson, George Dockrell, Ed Joyce, Jacob Mulder, Tim Murtagh, Andrew McBrine, Barry McCarthy, Kevin O’Brien, Niall O’Brien, Boyd Rankin, Paul Stirling, Gary Wilson, Craig Young
Ireland ODI squad v UAE: William Porterfield, Andrew Balbirnie, George Dockrell, Ed Joyce, Jacob Mulder, Tim Murtagh, Andrew McBrine, Barry McCarthy, Kevin O’Brien, Niall O’Brien, Paul Stirling, Stuart Thompson, Gary Wilson, Craig Young
Ireland ODI squad v Afghanistan: William Porterfield, Andrew Balbirnie, George Dockrell, Ed Joyce, Jacob Mulder, Tim Murtagh, Andrew McBrine, Barry McCarthy, Kevin O’Brien, Niall O’Brien, Boyd Rankin, Paul Stirling, Stuart Thompson, Gary Wilson, Craig Young.
T20I squad v Afghanistan: William Porterfield, George Dockrell, Josh Little, Jacob Mulder, Andrew McBrine, Barry McCarthy, Kevin O’Brien, Boyd Rankin, Paul Stirling, Greg Thompson, Stuart Thompson, Lorcan Tucker, Gary Wilson, Craig Young.