Botha blow adds to Ireland injury woes

THE strength in depth of Ireland cricket will be tested over the coming weeks after the announcement yesterday that stalwart all-rounder Andre Botha may have to undergo a second operation on his right ankle.

Botha’s participation in the 2011 World Cup qualifiers is over and with Kyle McCallan also unlikely to play for another week and Trent Johnston nursing a torn left hamstring, Ireland could be without their three most influential players for the Super Eight stage of the tournament.

A visit to a specialist in Pretoria on Wednesday confirmed what Botha already knew — that his ankle was not healing properly — but the North County player was not expecting to be told he had no chance of bowling in the T20 World Cup in June, even if he is fit to bat.

The persistent swelling that has restricted him to two appearances as a batsmen in the group stages may be caused by a piece of loose bone that will have to be removed.

That Ireland were able to comfortably win five group matches with only a minimal input from Botha, McCallan and Johnston speaks volumes for the strength of a squad that may yet go through this tournament unbeaten.

John Mooney, who came into the starting XI against Namibia to give Johnston a rest, claimed that any of the Ireland squad, and several reserves — like Phil Eaglestone and Reinhardt Strydom who were on standby to fly to South Africa — would be automatic choices for any of the other associates.

Ireland, the only team with the maximum three carry over wins, face Afghanistan, the UAE, Holland and Kenya in the next seven days with a likely final a week on Sunday.

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