Photo Credit: Sportsfile
Left-arm pace bowlers are highly sought after in international cricket – the variation they can provide to any attack in line and the angle of delivery can often break the rhythm of batters, and when combined that with the ability to generate unexpected bounce at speed, it can be the recipe for disaster for even the world’s best batters. Josh Little is keen to offer just that wicket-taking potential for Ireland this week.
Just how disruptive to a batter can Little be? Ask Eoin Morgan, who he has dismissed three times in the three matches he has played against England. Those wickets include the now famous wicket on Little’s ODI debut which saw a searing bouncer surprise Morgan who unsuccessfully attempted to evade the delivery, only to glove it through to the keeper for a third-ball duck.
Little, 21, made his international T20I debut in 2016 and then his ODI debut against England in 2019. He has 25 caps across the two formats, and while he rates that ODI debut against England as his best personal performance, he references a different match against the same opposition as his favourite match for Ireland so far.
Speaking from the team hotel, Little said:
“My 4-45 on ODI debut is something I’ll never forget. But, beating England in that 3rd ODI in Southampton last year beats my ODI debut, I reckon. That was a special game.”
How is Little feeling ahead of the World Cup Super League series against Netherlands?
“Considering I had a minor elbow injury on return from Bangladesh [where he played with the Ireland Wolves in early 2021], I’m relatively pleased with where my game is at. There’s always going to be things that need to be tweaked or worked on, but overall I feel in a good place going into the Dutch series.”
“The lack of club cricket definitely has reduced the number of overs bowled by all of our bowlers, but we try to make up for them at our training hub sessions as best we can.”
“These are sessions I often get to work with Stuart Barnes [Ireland’s Assistant Coach and National Bowling Lead] – I’ve absolutely loved working with Barnsey. I met him for the first time in Southampton and he’s been great for me and all the bowlers ever since – he pushes all of us hard, not only from a bowling point of view, but also from a fitness and nutrition point of view too. His experience around the world is definitely a huge asset for us bowlers to have available to us.”
“Of late, he has me working on my death bowling skills – it’s a key area I’m always looking to improve on and one I’ve always wanted to be the best at.”
And what is the mood like in the camp ahead of the series?
“I think everyone’s excited to get back out playing international cricket against a very talented Dutch side. As disappointing as the Afghan series was from a team perspective, I think it’s really injected a big hunger to come to Utrecht and take away three wins, which we have the talent and experience to do.”
And is he enjoying international cricket life?
“International cricket is something I’m very privileged to have in my life. I’m absolutely loving every step of my journey, albeit it has been a very small one thus far. It’s exactly how I expected it to be – very unforgiving, high pressure, but very enjoyable!”
The series will be played in Utrecht, and will involve a three-match ODI series with points won going towards qualification for the ICC Men’s World Cup 2023:
• 2 June 2021: Netherlands Men v Ireland Men – 1st ODI (Utrecht, 10.30am local time)
• 4 June 2021: Netherlands Men v Ireland Men – 2nd ODI (Utrecht, 10.30am local time)
• 7 June 2021: Netherlands Men v Ireland Men – 3rd ODI (Utrecht, 10.30am local time)
The matches will be available to watch via livestream in Ireland at: https://youtube.com/user/CricketNederland
THE IRELAND SQUAD
Whilst the core squad includes 15 players, an additional four players will also travel to assist with preparations and training given the current COVID-19 restrictions not permitting local support.
The core squad is:
Andrew Balbirnie (captain), Mark Adair, George Dockrell, Josh Little, Andrew McBrine, Graeme McCarter, Barry McCarthy, Kevin O’Brien, William Porterfield, Simi Singh, Paul Stirling, Harry Tector, Lorcan Tucker, Ben White, Craig Young.
The four additional players are:
Peter Chase, Stephen Doheny, Graham Kennedy, David O’Halloran.
Matches played as part of the inaugural ICC Cricket World Cup Super League (2020-2023) are essentially World Cup Qualifier matches, as the League will serve as part of the 2023 Cricket World Cup Qualification process. See the current WCSL table as it stands.
The WCSL features thirteen teams, the twelve Full members of the International Cricket Council (ICC), and the Netherlands (who won the 2015–17 ICC World Cricket League Championship to qualify for this competition). Each team will play an ODI series against eight of the twelve opponents, four series at home and four away. Each series will consist of three ODIs. For the World Cup, the hosts (India in 2023), and the top seven-ranked sides thereafter, will qualify automatically. The remaining five teams will play in a qualifying event along with five Associate sides, from which two sides will go through to the final tournament.