ANDREW Balbirnie, the Ireland captain, described Curtis Campher’s ODI debut as the most impressive he has seen for Ireland.

The 21-year-old South African Irish passport-holder made his first appearance in yesterday’s six wickets defeat at the Ageas Bowl and followed up his top score of 59 not out with figures of 1-26 in five overs.

“Not many people have seen a lot of Campher, but he has an incredible work ethic and is desperate to get out on the field. That’s the sort of cricketer we want in this team,” said Balbirnie. “You throw him the ball and ask him to do something, he is very clear in what he wants to do and as he showed, he’s pretty useful with the bat as well.

“That’s as impressive an ODI debut as I’ve seen in an Irish shirt. The future looks good for him but it’s only a start and he has to continue that along the line.”

Campher’s batting was needed after Ireland collapsed to 28-5 in the seventh over but, despite coming to the middle on a David Willey hat-trick, the new boy stayed for the rest of the innings which ended with five overs unused.

It was a disappointing way we started our innings. Gareth (Delany) started well, but for myself and Stirlo (Paul Stirling) to not assess the wicket as well as we should have was disappointing. Against the world champions it was always going to be a huge ask to come back from that and I thought we did well to reach 170 in the end, but with that start we are not going to compete.

The big call in team selection was the omission of strike bowler Boyd Rankin and Balbirnie admitted it was a tough decision.

“Boyd hasn’t been firing as well as we wanted. We gave him the Lions game to see how he was travelling.

“Craig (Young) has been bowing well in the nets – as have all the lads. They have all been training well and it wasn’t an easy squad to pick, we had to go with what we thought. Youngy took a couple of wickets, he always does, but Boyd is still a big part of this team, he will be down the line, and it will be tight calls along the way.”

Balbirnie admitted concern over Barry McCarthy’s participation in the rest the series after he pulled up in the first over with a knee problem and the captain was waiting last night on the official diagnosis.