Joyce gunning for England as he targets Test swansong
Ed Joyce has given incoming Ireland coach John Bracewell an unexpected boost by announcing that he wants to continue playing internationals for another four years and still dreams of winning at least one Test cap.
The veteran left-hander will be in Malahide today for the Royal London one-day international against England - the team he pinned his allegiance to for six years in an unsuccessful bid to test his sublime batting skills at the game's highest level.
Joyce did score an ODI century for England but never played a Test, and his time with the Three Lions always felt a little awkward for the Bray man.
Now, according to Bracewell, "all the building blocks are in place" for Ireland to become a Test-playing nation by 2019 and England have opened a window in their calendar to host a historic five-dayer at Lord's that season. (No invitation yet to play even one ODI, mind).
"I'm 36 now and in the twilight of my career but I'm still loving every minute of it," Joyce said. "I'm hoping to play county cricket for another two years and if I can carry on playing for Ireland for a couple of years after that it would be great.
"My dream is to play in Ireland's first Test match in three or four years' time. It's what I'm focusing on."
There is no certainty of Ireland earning the right to play Test cricket by winning the next InterContinental Cup and then beating the lowest-ranked ICC Full Member, though,so competitive performances in contests like today's 50-overs match are vital to maintain a high profile.
England have arrived with an experimental side but are favourites to win in front of a 10,000 sellout crowd, despite a dismal World Cup campaign.
"We expect them to be very strong," Joyce said. "The likes of Alex Hales and Jason Roy are top quality and will be a handful.
"We haven't actually beaten one of the supposedly weaker sides that England have sent over and until we do I don't think we can complain to much."
A weather forecast that would have Noah hurrying to the boat-shed may yet have the final say but if a match can be played it will be interesting to see whether Ireland's selectors will give Craig Young a chance to show what he could have done at the World Cup.
The 25-year-old fast bowler was overlooked by Phil Simmons but will surely be one of the new generation that Bracewell will build his team around when takes over next month, with Tim Murtagh suffering a spate of injuries and Boyd Rankin showing no sign of ending his Joyce-like exile with England.
Ireland v England,
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