O'Brien fit for Zimbabwe trip

O'Brien fit for Zimbabwe trip

Niall O’Brien is fit after an operation on his finger and will return for Ireland on this month’s tour of Zimbabwe.

The Northamptonshire player was today named in a 14-strong squad which also contains his fellow wicketkeeper-batsman Gary Wilson, of Surrey, and captain William Porterfield, of Gloucestershire.

Ireland’s Warwickshire fast bowler Boyd Rankin is still out with a foot injury - but like medium-pacer Alex Cusack, is hoping to be fit for a tour of the subcontinent at the end of this year in preparation for the World Cup.

Ireland face a Zimbabwe XI in an Intercontinental Cup tie in Harare on September 20-23, and then Zimbabwe again in three one-day internationals.

Ireland coach Phil Simmons said: “It’s an important trip for a variety of reasons.

“We’re currently ranked 10th in the world, above Zimbabwe, and we want to not only keep our position but close in on and possibly overhaul [ninth-placed] Bangladesh.

“We haven’t given up hope of still qualifying for the final of the Intercontinental Cup.

“The World Cup is now only five months away, and for the fringe players these fixtures represent a mammoth opportunity to convince me and the selectors that they should be on the plane to Bangladesh and India.

“I hope that they take their chance and make a name for themselves. I have most of the squad in my mind, but there’s still a few places up for grabs.”

Ireland squad (v Zimbabwe): W Porterfield (captain), A Botha, G Dockrell, A Eastwood (Pembroke), T Johnston, N Jones, J Mooney, K O’Brien, N O’Brien (wkt), A Poynter, P Stirling, A Van De Merwe, A White, G Wilson (wkt).

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