Thursday 22 August 2019

Overthrow puts venue in doubt


Ed Joyce. Photo: Sportsfile
Ed Joyce. Photo: Sportsfile

David Townsend

South Africa has emerged as the likely alternative host for next year's World Cup qualifiers, the Irish Independent understands, if the International Cricket Council decide to move the tournament from Zimbabwe in March, following the political unrest in the country.

When the army seized control in Harare earlier in the week, reports suggested the 10-nation showdown for the final two World Cup places may be moved to the United Arab Emirates, but South Africa, where Ireland won a similar tournament in 2009, is now the favoured destination.

Wherever the tournament is eventually played, Ireland will be hoping Ed Joyce is still available after a knee injury forced the 39-year-old veteran to withdraw from their final InterContinental Cup match against Scotland later this month in the UAE.

Joyce will also miss the three ODIs against Afghanistan that follow the IC Cup game and with his body screaming that it's time to quit, Ireland's greatest batsman must now be considered an odds-on bet to retire after winning a Test cap against Pakistan in May.

Joyce's brother-in-law John Anderson replaces him in the squad for all the UAE games but Ireland's slim hopes of winning the IC Cup for a fifth and final time seem even more unlikely without a batsman who has scored two double-centuries in the latest edition of the competition.

Indeed, rather than hoping for the UAE to open the door by beating leaders Afghanistan, the Boys in Green might just have to settle for second place and getting the better of Scotland, with their oldest international rivals keen to earn bragging points.

Irish Independent

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