Ireland ring the changes
Ian Callender (Belfast Telegraph)
NATHAN Smith and Jack Tector have been named in the Ireland squad for the Intercontinental Cup match against the Netherlands in Malahide, starting on Tuesday week, but there is no guarantee that they will play.
The selectors have named a squad of 14 minus Paul Stirling, Niall O’Brien and Craig Young who are all on the injury or doubtful list and will decide on the day whether Smith’s bowling or Tector’s batting will give them the honour of becoming Ireland’s 700th capped player.
The surprise omission is George Dockrell with Jacob Mulder, who missed the last I-Cup match against Afghanistan because of injury, and Simi Singh the two chosen front line spinners as Andy McBrine also misses out again.
Boyd Rankin, who has played only one four-day game for Ireland since his return from England duty at the start of last year, is a welcome addition but with Tim Murtagh, Peter Chase and Barry McCarthy also in the squad it will be a hard call to drop one of that trio to accommodate Smith.
Indeed, the Instonians swing bowler gets in the squad only as a replacement for Young who bowled impressively and with good pace yesterday at Comber for the North West Warriors, but he still has a troublesome elbow and the selectors have decided not to risk him and given Smith a well-deserved call-up after taking five second innings wickets for the Ireland Wolves last week.
The absence of Stirling, who will only receive the results of a scan on his calf injury this week, also allowed the selectors to bring in former Ireland Under 19 captain Tector for a feel of the big time, but here too there are plenty of options at the top of the order with captain William Porterfield, Ed Joyce, I-Cup specialist John Anderson and Andrew Balbirnie available.
Niall O’Brien has a persistent shoulder problem which prevents him from keeping wicket so he hands over the gloves to Gary Wilson and has also lost his place in the squad as a batsman.