Ireland boost as star man Joyce moves home to play for Leinster
Ed Joyce has given a massive boost to the domestic game by signing a full-time contract with Cricket Ireland that will see him playing for Leinster Lightning next season as well as coaching at the National Academy.
While Sussex hope Joyce (38) will still be available for up to seven county championship matches, their former captain's priority is now clearly at home, where he plans to spend the final years of his career scoring first-class runs in the Hanley Energy interprovincial Championship and fulfilling his dream of winning at least one Test cap.
"Coming back to play full-time for Ireland and also play in the interprovincial series was a big decision but also quite an easy one," said Joyce, a Bray native, who moved his young family back to Dublin at the end of the 2015 season.
"Test cricket is the pinnacle for any cricketer and I want to be part of the team that plays Ireland's first Test match, but also now that the interpros have first class and list-A status, it's good to be involved.
"We're at the stage where we need to be more consistent and competitive as an international side, and we also require the interpros to improve and provide a steady stream of players ready to perform well for Ireland."
Joyce made his debut for Middlesex in 1999 before moving to Sussex 10 years later. He switched to England from 2006-10, playing 17 one-day internationals but no Tests.
Having scored 17,925 first-class runs at an average of 48.05, he could be considered the greatest cricketer in Ireland's history. He averaged 64.12 in the county championship last season, and remains the key batsman in John Bracwell's Ireland side.
Nine other Ireland players have been awarded A contracts, including Andy Balbirnie and John Anderson. Niall O'Brien, who has called time on his county career to become an agent, is one of nine with B contracts, for those players who have other employers.
Meanwhile, Ireland's women have named a squad of 14 for the World T20 qualifiers in February.