Instonians preparations for the forthcoming season have received a further set-back with the news that Nathan Smith has opted to remain in his native Australia rather than pursuing his international ambitions with Ireland.

The 23 year-old was on the fringes of the Ireland squad, having been named in the Test squad for their maiden clash with Pakistan at Malahide last year.

However, a side strain sustained in the build up to the game in May forced him to miss out, and restricted his appearances for Instonians to just four games.

Smith has been in fine form in Grade cricket in Sydney this summer, but the first sign that he was ending his time with Ireland came when he made himself unavailable for the Wolves tour of Sri Lanka this winter.

Those rumours were finally confirmed on Tuesday when the player admitted he was ending his ambitions of a professional career in cricket.

The opening bowler played 12 times for Ireland Wolves in 2017 and 2018, taking 21 wickets at 26.24, with his best haul of 5 for 32 coming against the MCC Young Cricketers.

His absence will also be felt by the Northern Knights. for whom he captured 23 wickets across all formats at 30.52, with his best display being 4 for 34 against the NW Warriors.

It will be at Shaw's Bridge however that his decision will be felt most.

Despite the best efforts of the club to have him back for 2018, the family ties and career opportunities of his motherland proved too strong a draw, and the club will now have to cope without he and James Shannon for the new season.

He was part of the Instonians side that won the Premier League title in 2016, and played 43 games in total for them.

He took 58 wickets at just 22.05, capturing four wickets on three occasions against The Hills, North Down and CIYMS.

He was also no mug with the bat, averaging 23.33, with his best score an unbeaten 57 against North Down.

On the credit side for the club, they were successful in persuading Shane Getkate to remain, and have the highly-rated 22 year-old South African Murray Commins also in their ranks.