Cricket: Joyce returns to Irish fold for World Cup
ED JOYCE has been cleared to play for Ireland in next year's World Cup -- less than four years after representing England in the 2007 competition.
The International Cricket Council (ICC) have given the 32-year-old left-hander from Bray special dispensation to allow him to participate in the 2011 World Cup, to be held in India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh and which starts in February.
They have, however, declined the request from Cricket Ireland to have Irish passport holder Hamish Marshall cleared to also take part, meaning he won't be eligible to play for his adopted country until the beginning of April.
Speaking from India, where he is on a pre-World Cup training camp with Ireland, Joyce said: "It's obviously tremendous news. Playing for Ireland again is something I've given a lot of thought to over the last few years and to be given the opportunity to do so, a little earlier than expected and on the biggest stage, is absolutely fantastic.
"Having seen the talent and work ethic of the squad over the last week or so in India, I feel Ireland will once again make a huge impact at the World Cup and I look forward to hopefully offering a lot to the team in the tournament and the whole of 2011."
Joyce has played for Ireland 50 times, the last of which was the 2005 ICC Trophy final at Clontarf. He has scored 1,637 runs at an average of 37.20, placing him in third place in the all-time averages, just above Eoin Morgan in fourth slot.
Ireland coach Phil Simmons said of the decision: "It's a huge boost to have Ed available for the World Cup, adding to the selectors' headaches in an already strong squad -- but that's a nice problem to have.
"Of course, it would have been fantastic to have both Ed and Hamish available, but it's not to be."
An ICC spokesperson said: "Ed was granted permission for his four-year standout period to be slightly reduced, so that he could compete in the CWC 2011. This was done on the basis of exceptional circumstances and the unique facts of his specific case, which included his Irish background and his very strong ties to Irish cricket from childhood up to senior national representation. We would like to wish Ed all the best as he resumes his Ireland career."
Sussex star Joyce gave up on his long-held ambition to play Test cricket for England during the summer and declared his intention to play again for Ireland.
Marshall last played for New Zealand at the 2007 World Cup but had his case for special dispensation rejected despite holding an Irish passport.
The Kiwi will have to wait another couple of months to make his debut under his new flag.