THE county championship kicks off today, and for the first time in many years there’s a decidedly thin Irish contingent in action.

Only skipper William Porterfield is playing at the Oval in what is first championship game for Warwickshire since the summer of 2015.
He will be keen to continue from where he left off last week when he made 89 and 36 against Oxford University.

Those university games traditionally provide early-season first-class opportunities. Another Irish player made his FC debut for Durham MCCU. James McCollum, son of Cricket Ireland chairman Ross, made 64 against Gloucestershire at Bristol and 7 this week against Essex.

Former Ireland Under 19s Patrick Tice (Cambridge) and Bobby Gamble (Loughborough) are back this year, with Tice standing firm on 1 not out as Lancashire tore his side apart, He made 4 in the second innings and also held a catch to dismiss James Anderson.

Gamble is captaining his MCCU, and recorded his best first-class performances with both bat and ball as his side had two creditable drawn games.

Against Leicestershire he made 0 and 0-36, but took 2-16 in the second innings. This week he made 32 out of a whopping 553 against Northampton, and took 1-75 and 0-29.