BOYD Rankin finally gets to play a one-day international on his home ground today when Bready hosts Zimbabwe in the first of the three-game series (10.45am).
Thirteen years after Ireland hosted its first official ODI, the North West finally gets its chance and, fittingly it is a Killyclooney native – and Bready strike bowler – who will be leading the side.
“It’s been a little while in coming, we’ve played a few Twenty20 internationals here, but it’s nice to finally get one on home North West Turf,” said William Porterfield.
Porterfield could not have hand-picked a more apposite venue for what will be his 250th game as Ireland captain but the only thing that matters tomorrow is getting the right result and, after Ireland Wolves, again, defeated the opposition in their warm-up game, the pressure is on the senior side to follow-up.
At the beginning of May, the Wolves side beat Bangladesh, four days before their first match in the Tri-Series in Dublin, and on Saturday, they completed the double with a 27 runs victory over Zimbabwe.
The captain didn’t admit to any increased pressure yesterday but hailed the Wolves victory.
“It’s great for the Wolves to put in that performance,” said Porterfield.” A few of the lads in that team have been involved with the senior squad and we need a lot more of those games because it helps with the depth.
“That’s two scalps for them and to win them quite convincingly is great for Irish cricket.”
Simi Singh, who is also in the Ireland squad this week, was the Wolves’ top scorer with 90 - one less than he scored in the win against Bangladesh – and Peter Chase and Barry McCarthy shared five of the wickets as Zimbabwe were bowled out in the 48th over for 256.
A number of Zimbabwe’s ‘big guns’, who can be expected to play today, were left out on Saturday, including Brendan Taylor, former Lisburn professional Craig Ervine and opening bowler Chris Mpofu but they suffered a huge blow when Elton Chigumbura was ruled out of the series after wrecking his Achilles when batting and he left the ground on crutches.
Although Ireland rarely announce their final 11 until the morning of the match, Porterfield did confirm last night that Lorcan Tucker will play this third ODI - and his first as wicket-keeper - the reason why Gary Wilson was allowed to play for Civil Service North yesterday in the NCU Premier League game against Instonians.
Tucker scored seven on his debut against England and a duck against West Indies in May, playing as a specialist batsman but this will be only the second time he has kept wicket for Ireland in his 10th international – the previous time on his T20 debut, on this ground, against Hong Kong in September 2016.
Another player hoping for an ODI debut is Shane Getkate, the Instonians all-rounder who opted to miss both club games at the weekend to train with his international team-mates.
If the selectors are picking players in form, he should be one of the first on the team-sheet. He now considers himself as a batsman – a hard-hitting one – who bowls but he has taken 18 wickets in five Knights matches this season and he could join Tucker the starting XI.
While Getkate is starring with the ball, Mark Adair has been scoring quick runs for fun for both Northern Knights and CIYMS recently and he must be a certainty to play his seventh ODI, and as he has done in five of his previous games, could share one of the two new balls, at the other end from Tim Murtagh.
The other option is Andy McBrine, the third North West Warrior in the side, and he dismissed opening batsman Solomon Mire in the team’s last meeting, the World Cup qualifier in Harare last year.
That day, Ireland were bowled out for 104, but with home advantage this time, Ireland will be looking for revenge, albeit in a match not quite of such importance.