Cricket Ireland: Ireland Men’s squad announced for the three-format Afghanistan series

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Photo Credit: Afghanistan Cricket Board

Selectors have named squads for Ireland Men’s multi-format series against Afghanistan starting in late February in the UAE.

The tour will see the two sides face off in their second Test Match – the first Test in 2019 saw the Afghans come away with a seven-wicket victory.

Andrew Balbirnie will captain the Test side, while Paul Stirling will captain the white-ball teams.

Stirling, the most recent of only 25 cricketers in history to have scored a century in all three formats, will also be available to play in the Test side. In addition, there are four members of the Test squad in line to make their Test debuts if selected – Matthew Foster, Barry McCarthy, Theo van Woerkom and Craig Young.

In the white ball squads, only Matthew Foster is uncapped.

The full fixture schedule is:

  • 28 February – 3 March: Afghanistan Men v Ireland Men (Test Match; Abu Dhabi; 10am start time)
  • 7 March: Afghanistan Men v Ireland Men (ODI; Sharjah; 3.30pm start time)
  • 9 March: Afghanistan Men v Ireland Men (ODI; Sharjah; 3.30pm start time)
  • 12 March: Afghanistan Men v Ireland Men (ODI; Sharjah; 3.30pm start time)
  • 15 March: Afghanistan Men v Ireland Men (T20I; Sharjah; 8pm start time)
  • 17 March: Afghanistan Men v Ireland Men (T20I; Sharjah; 8pm start time)
  • 18 March: Afghanistan Men v Ireland Men (T20I; Sharjah; 8pm start time)

The players departs Dublin on 18 February 2024 for a preparation camp ahead of the series.

THE SQUADS

Test squad

Mark Adair, Andrew Balbirnie (capt), Curtis Campher, George Dockrell, Matthew Foster, Graham Hume, Andy McBrine, Barry McCarthy, James McCollum, PJ Moor, Paul Stirling, Harry Tector, Lorcan Tucker, Theo van Woerkom, Craig Young

ODI squad

Mark Adair, Andrew Balbirnie, Curtis Campher, Gareth Delany, George Dockrell, Matthew Foster, Graham Hume, Andy McBrine, Barry McCarthy, Neil Rock, Paul Stirling (capt), Harry Tector, Lorcan Tucker, Theo van Woerkom, Craig Young

T20I squad

Mark Adair, Ross Adair, Andrew Balbirnie, Curtis Campher, Gareth Delany, George Dockrell, Graham Hume, Josh Little, Barry McCarthy, Neil Rock, Paul Stirling (capt), Harry Tector, Lorcan Tucker, Ben White, Craig Young

The coaching and support staff are:

  • Head Coach: Heinrich Malan
  • Batting/Wicketkeeping Coach: Gary Wilson
  • Pace Bowling Coach: Ryan Eagleson
  • Spin Bowling Coach: Chris Brown
  • Physiotherapist: Mark Rausa
  • Strength & Conditioning Coach: Brendan Connor
  • Performance Analyst: Scott Irvine
  • Team Operations Manager: Chris Siddell

Andrew White, Selector for Ireland Men, said:

“We have played a lot of cricket over the last decade in this part of the world, so the conditions should be somewhat familiar to the players – albeit, predominantly in the white ball formats. While there has been a 12-week gap, the squad should carry some confidence and momentum into this series from the successful tour of Zimbabwe in December.

Preparations have been going well, the squad had a solid training camp in Spain last week and we will be sending the players to the UAE five days ahead of the upcoming series to acclimatise and train in Middle Eastern conditions.

“I think it’s fair to say that our squad has gone through an enormous transformation since these two teams last met in a three-format series in 2019. Take the Test Match – only five of the starting XI in 2019 are in this squad, and while we have a younger age profile today than the 2019 side, it is fair to say that the XI going into this Test will likely be far more experienced and familiar with the rhythms and flows of multi-day cricket.

While the Test squad is largely consistent with the squad that played in our last Test at Lord’s, left-arm orthodox spinner Theo van Woerkom comes in as an extra slow-bowling option should conditions warrant greater spinning variation. In the white ball formats, CSNI’s Mattew Foster has come in to the ODI squad, while Josh Little isn’t available for those fixtures on this occasion – Little, though, will join up with the T20I squad.

“We also welcome Neil Rock back into the international set-up. Pebbles [Neil Rock] had a stellar year at domestic level in 2023, topping the run-scoring list in the inter-provincial 50-over competition, and third-highest in the inter-provincial T20 competition. His form has commanded a recall and we look forward to seeing him in Irish colours once more.

“This series is a crucial one in our preparations ahead of a big summer, which includes the T20 World Cup. This is always a highly-anticipated contest and I would expect this to be a hard-fought series – one I’m very much looking forward to.”

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