Pressure on selectors to overhaul ageing Ireland side for Bready T20s
Published 23/08/2016 | 02:30
The announcement today of Ireland's squad to play T20s against Hong Kong next month could provide the biggest personnel shake-up for years after a dismal run of results generally at international level and particularly in the shortest form of the game.
Chairman Alan Lewis and his fellow selectors have wisely kept faith with the familiar faces for the four-day InterContinental Cup match against Hong Kong in Belfast next week, but the two T20s that follow at Bready in Co Tyrone demand an injection of new blood, if not a transfusion.
It will be a surprise if Pembroke batsman-wicketkeeper Lorcan Tucker isn't given a chance after starring at the U-19 World Cup and then kicking on this season, while Phoenix paceman Rory Anders, another U19 graduate, is also hammering on the selectors' door.
The really bold move, though, would be for Lewis to give an early promotion to 16-year-old giant Josh Little, the Pembroke left-arm fast bowler, who has earned rave reviews for his performances for club and national age groups.
Little was tipped as the youngster most likely to succeed by departing coach Phil Simmons last year, and he was fast-tracked into the U-19 World Cup squad.
If Little were to play in either of the games on September 5 and 6, he would become the youngest debutant since Greg Thompson appeared as a 16-year-old leg-spinning prodigy in 2004.
Sadly Thompson lost his way with the ball but has reinvented himself as a batsman for the Northern Knights and, still only 28, might be dreaming of a recall himself after scoring a century for Waringstown in the NCU T20 final last week and compiling over 1,000 runs during a wet summer.
A more likely inclusion from the north is Thompson's in-form clubmate Adam Dennison, yet whoever the selectors turn to they will be criticised for not being bold enough in overhauling a team that lost to Oman on the way to finishing bottom of their group at the World T20 in March.
Meanwhile, Pakistan top the world Test rankings for the first time after previous incumbents India saw their final Test against the West Indies washed out.
The outfield was still drenched at Port of Spain before the start of Day 5, despite a fourth straight day of warm, dry conditions.
The officials immediately called a halt, leaving both teams in attendance frustrated - only 22 overs were bowled in the entire match - but Pakistan celebrating.
Pakistan had moved to second after drawing their series in England 2-2, and India's stay at the top after going 2-0 up in the Windies series proving short-lived.