Tim Murtagh, Ireland’s most experienced bowler, is set to follow Stuart Poynter into the international wilderness next year.
Poynter has signed a new two-year contract with Durham and because Ireland players are classed as overseas players from next season, he has effectively terminated his international career, eight years after his debut.
Murtagh (38) has told Cricket Ireland he will end his playing career with Middlesex but no announcement has been made yet because, with the new rule not coming into effect until the start of the next county season, Murtagh is still available to play for Ireland in the three one-day internationals against West Indies in Barbados and Grenada in January and a fourth and farewell Test appearance against Sri Lanka in Galle in February.
There is also the possibility of Ireland playing their second Test match against Afghanistan in India in March – for which Murtagh would be available - but that five-day game remains unconfirmed.
Poynter played 60 games for Ireland, the last his Test match debut against Afghanistan in March, but because Niall O’Brien and Gary Wilson were the first-choice wicket-keepers, he was never an Ireland regular.
Ironically his longest run behind the stumps was at the start of this year when O’Brien had retired and Wilson had an eye problem and he played all 12 games in Oman and India but he was discarded in favour of Lorcan Tucker, now number two to Wilson, for the Zimbabwe series in July.
Poynter scored two centuries in red-ball cricket for Ireland, against Sri Lanka A at Stormont in 2014 when the team was captained by his brother Andrew and 125 when he opened the batting in the four-day game against Zimbabwe A the following year.
The only other player involved in county cricket this year was Paul Stirling but the 29-year-old has committed to Ireland and made the decision to leave Middlesex.
Murtagh needs to play only three more games to reach 100 internationals and, even at the age of 38, is certain to be a huge miss from the Ireland attack next year.
He stepped down from the shortest format after the T20 World Cup in 2016 so is not involved with the Ireland squad which finished second in the Oman Pentangular T20 tournament following Oman’s victory over Nepal in the last game yesterday, the hosts’ fourth straight win.
The squad head to Abu Dhabi today and will play official warm-up games against familiar opponents, Netherlands on Monday and Scotland on Tuesday, before the T20 World Cup qualifiers begin next Friday, their first match against Trent Johnston's Hong Kong side.