LEINSTER LIGHTNING may have lost their inter-provincial Championship crown for the first time but they are determined to finish the season on a high.
George Dockrell will lead a virtual full-strength line-up, missing only the rested Kevin O’Brien for this week’s finale against Northern Knights at Pembroke.
Opening batsmen Jack Tector and Stephen Doheny are the only non-internationals in the team with Eddie Richardson called in for his first three-day game of the season.
Northern Knights welcome back Nathan Smith after his long-term injury and Matthew McCord, who made such a promising debut in the last Championship game, against champions North West Warriors, retains his place in a side which shows three changes.
James Shannon, who resumes the captaincy, and Warinsgtown slow left armer Gary Kidd, who both missed the game at Bready through injury also return with Aaron Wright and Phil Eaglestone missing out.
The game is the last first-class match before Ireland play their second Test match, against Afghanistan in March and Jack Tector, John Anderson, James McCollum and even Harry Tector, all currently outside the senior squad, will hope to make an impression on Head Coach Graham Ford who will be watching all three days.
McCollum would appear to be the next cab off the rank for promotion and having already scored two 80s in the first match between the teams at Comber he followed up with 116 against the Warriors and was top scorer in the second innings at Bready.
The Waringstown batsman put his name in the frame when he scored 170 for Ireland Wolves against Scotland A in July and one more big innings could book his ticket for India.
Josh Little is in pole position for a pace bowling slot, in the absence of the more experienced but injured David Delany and his head-to-head with Smith could be very revealing. Remember, Smith is the man in possession having been named in Ireland’s inaugural Test squad but forced to pull out three days before the match, with the injury which has kept him out for three months.
Tyrone Kane was the player who took his place against Pakistan and will always be one of the first 11 to receive a Test cap, but he is also likely to need a big performance this week to get a winter call-up.
Lightning are favourites to return to winning ways after their second draw of the season against Warriors and a maximum points success will leave them one point behind Warriors in the final table – having had a point deducted for a slow over-rate in their opening game.
But the head to head points in the games between the teams (18-17) would still have given Warriors the title if Lightning had finished level.
The Leinster side, who need only four bonus points to condemn Knights to bottom place in the Championship table, have a winner-takes-all 50-over Cup decider on Sunday against Warriors ,when the teams meet in the final inter-provincial of the season at Rathmines.