Irritated Irish to face Namibia
THERE could be a bit of friction in the air at Stormont this morning when Ireland finally get the chance to take on Namibia, in the first of two back-to-back 50-overs matches.
Several Ireland players were furious when last week's four-day InterContinental Cup clash between the sides had to be called off because the Namibians failed to make it to Belfast in time, citing visa problems.
The Africans then blamed Cricket Ireland for their non-arrival, claiming the hosts should have informed them that Namibian nationals do not need visas to visit Northern Ireland.
That 'oversight' cost at least three fringe players a first cap for Ireland -- including U-19 wicketkeeper Stuart Poynter -- but coach Phil Simmons' side will be close to full strength today, with only Ed Joyce and Gary Wilson missing from the county contingent. Wilson will be available for tomorrow's game.
While Namibia are not an official one-day international side, the two games are the first for Ireland in an Associates League that will be used, in 2014, to determine which non-Test playing nations are promoted to play on a regular basis alongside the big boys.
Simmons isn't getting too excited about the new league, though. "We don't deal in not winning, so it doesn't change anything," he said. "We are the top side at this level in one-day cricket and we have to go out and prove that."
Ireland squad -- W Porterfield (capt), A Cusack, G Dockrell, T Johnston, N Jones, J Mooney, G McCarter, K O'Brien (wk), N O'Brien, A Poynter, B Rankin, P Stirling, A White, G Wilson.