WITH the first one-day international of the season, against England at Malahide, less than two weeks away, places are still up for grabs as the inter-provincial season gets under way in Spain, although rain for the last two days in La Manga has put back the first game by 24 hours.

In a first venture outside Ireland, the country’s top 39 players will be in action in the teams’ opening two (50-over) Cup games and a record number of internationals are taking part.

With only three players still involved in county cricket, the games are now effectively Ireland trials with the best against the best and Gary Wilson, back home after 12 years in England and appointed Northern Knights captain, is looking forward to the competition. “

It is certainly getting stronger and stronger with all the players coming back from England, and I'm really looking forward to see what the Knights can do,” he said.

“I feel we have a decent squad and I’m relishing the start of the campaign.

“Hopefully Jonty (coach Simon Johnston) and myself can take the Knights in a good direction and build on the solid foundations put in place over the past few seasons.”

In a remarkable turnaround this year, the Knights have no fewer than eight internationals in their 13-man squad - just one fewer than the star-studded Leinster Lightning side which is undefeated in the last five years of the 50-over competition – and three others were in the Ireland Wolves side this winter.

North West Warriors are again led by Andy McBrine who has six fellow internationals, including Boyd Rankin while George Dockrell continues as Leinster Lightning captain in a squad with no fewer than nine Ireland players, including the returning Barry McCarthy.

Knights squad: G Wilson (capt), H Tector, M Adair, J Cameron-Dow, M Ellison, S Getkate, G McCarter, J McCollum, R McKinley, J Mulder, N Rock, J Shannon, G Thompson.

Lightning squad: G Dockrell (capt), A Balbirnie, P Chase, S Doheny, G Delany, F Hand, T Kane, J Little, B McCarthy, K O’Brien, S Singh, J Tector, L Tucker.

Warriors squad: A McBrine (capt), B Rankin, S Thompson, W Porterfield, C Young, D Rankin, A Britton, M Poskitt, A Austin, W McClintock, R Allen, A Gillespie, G Kennedy.

This week’s opening fixtures (all games in La Manga):

  • Tuesday: Leinster Lightning v North West Warriors
  • Wednesday: Warriors v Northern Knights
  • Thursday: Lightning v Knights.