David Townsend (Irish Independent)
Ireland players past and present have slammed England for selecting ‘a third XI' to contest this Thursday's sold out RSA Challenge one-day international at Clontarf.
Dublin-born Eoin Morgan will captain his adopted country for the first time but of the England team famously beaten by Ireland at the World Cup in March only Jonathan Trott will make the journey this week.
'I was so angry when I heard their squad,' former Ireland fast bowler Dave Langford-Smith said.
'There are two or three names there I've never even heard of - they're taking the piss.'
'England aren't showing us much respect,' a senior current player agreed.
'This is cricket's big chance to make an impact with the Irish people and the opposition just aren't interested. That's quite a contrast with the Aussies who were here last year.
'It looks like England are not taking this seriously at all which is pretty stupid really when you consider our recent record against them.'
Aside from the three-wicket win in Bangalore when Kevin O‘Brien scored the World Cup‘s fastest century, Ireland had the better of a rained off game at the 2010 World Twenty20 and lost by only two runs in Belfast in 2009.
England are officially ‘resting' the likes of Alastair Cook, Ian Bell, Kevin Pietersen, Graeme Swann and Stuart Broad after the four-Test series against India. But Langford-Smith, who played in the 2007 World Cup, believes the recently crowned No1 team in Test cricket have adopted a cowardly ‘can't lose' policy because they are scared of suffering another humiliating defeat at Castle Avenue.
'England had two options and they've chosen the soft one,' he added.
'They could have come over here looking for revenge but instead they're sending a third or fourth team. There's no doubt in my mind they're afraid of Ireland.
'It's easy to see their game. If they lose, they can say it was only the kids that got beaten but if they win then their reserves are better than Ireland's first team. It's typical England. They're scared of losing to us on the world stage again.
'Where I grew up in Australia that would never happen. Not only would the players want to get their revenge for losing in the World Cup, the Australian public would also demand that the No1 team played.'
When Australia beat Ireland by 39 runs at Clontarf last year, Ricky Ponting's team arrived days ahead of the game to acclimatise whereas England will fly in on the eve of the match and have insisted on an early start so they can leave on Thursday evening.
'They saw how close we ran a strong Australian team here last year and they know all about a guy called Kevin O'Brien and they don't want to know. It makes me so angry,' Langford-Smith said.
'This is the biggest game of the summer for Irish cricket, it's been sold out for months and now we're all going to be looking at players nobody knows. It's a disgrace.'