Ireland braced for row over Afghan series
Ireland are on a collision course with several English counties after agreeing to host a ground breaking five-match one-day international series against Afghanistan in July, in addition to ODIs this summer against Sri Lanka, Pakistan, South Africa and Australia.
While coach John Bracewell has hailed the fixture list as “getting close to the amount and variety of fixtures we need to continue our international development” counties like Middlesex, Warwickshire and Sussex could take a different view of losing players for important games.
Tim Murtagh, a key figure in the Middlesex attack, could miss three championship matches, while big-hitting Paul Stirling will miss at least three T20s.
If Boyd Rankin plays all 11 games he will be ruled out of two championship matches for Warwickshire and six limited-over games, along with Ireland skipper William Porterfield, and Sussex, Surrey and Leicestershire face similar absences from Ed Joyce, Gary Wilson and Niall O’Brien.
Despite the introduction of central contracts, Ireland’s leading players still derive the majority of their earnings from the county game and an increased commitment to international games could lead to more pressure to choose one or the other when negotiating future deals.
Along with the announcement of their first five-match ODI series – with the games all to be played in Belfast on July, 10, 12, 14, 17 and 19 – Cricket Ireland also confirmed a reciprocal series after the InterContinental Cup match against Afghanistan at the their new ‘home ground” in Delhi early next year.
Meanwhile, James Taylor, who captained England against Ireland in the one-day international at Malahide last year, has been forced to retire at the age of 26 after discovering he has a heart condition similar to former footballer Fabrice Muamba.
Taylor played in all four Tests against South Africa during the winter but had to miss Nottinghamshire’s opening games of the county season with what was initially thought to a virus but later diagnosed as Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Arrhythmia.
Muamba collapsed while playing for Bolton in 2012 and his heart had stopped beating for 78 minutes before he was revived and made a full recovery. Taylor played seven Tests and 27 ODIs.