Ponting: ICC must protect Ireland
Australia captain Ricky Ponting has called on the International Cricket Council to halt the player drain from Irish cricket ahead of their one-day international in Dublin tomorrow.
The exodus of Ireland's best players has been highlighted by the examples of Eoin Morgan and Ed Joyce, who have both represented England, with the former playing a key role in their ICC World Twenty20 success earlier this year.
Fast bowler Boyd Rankin, who has 20 ODI caps with Ireland, has also been identified by England after he was selected in the ECB's enhanced England performance programme that trained in the United States over the winter.
That has led to fears inside Cricket Ireland that they will lose another of their key players and Ponting today went into bat for them, claiming the progress of the fledgling nation on the international stage is being unfairly undermined.
"I'm very sympathetic to countries like Ireland that potentially could keep losing their better players. It's something that shouldn't happen I feel," Ponting said.
"I think the ICC should be worried about that as far as trying to develop countries like Ireland and having some of their best young players poached, even in county cricket.
"If the ICC look at that and are fair dinkum about Ireland continuing to grow as a nation and maybe one day being a Test-playing nation they can't afford to have their better players going off at a young age.
"The counties are jumping on 17, 18-year-old kids who have maybe had a good tournament or a few good games here or there. They offer them some decent money and away they go.
"You can understand that as far as the players are concerned, but I think the ICC have to step in and do their best to ensure the young Irish kids that are coming along get a chance to play for their country first and foremost."