Joyce is now well and truly and back in the Ireland fold after having switched allegiance to England. He is now an integral part of Phil Simmons’ squad.
Ireland completed their World Cup preparations with a confidence-boosting four-wicket win over Bangladesh in Sydney yesterday. Balbirnie’s unbeaten 63 steered Ireland home after new-ball pair John Mooney and Max Sorensen claimed three wickets each to bowl out the Tigers for 189.
It was Ireland’s first win since they arrived in Australia last week and provided a much-needed lift ahead of their opening group game against West Indies in Nelson next Monday.
Ireland suffered a thumping 179-run defeat to Scotland in a warm-up match on Tuesday after losing their opening fixture to Sydney grade side Randwick-Petersham.
“We had a poor day two days ago and we had needed to put it right before the tournament started,” Balbirnie said. “I thought everyone bowled particularly well. It was a great 50 overs to start and then we saw it home at the end.”
Young right-hander Balbirnie joined Joyce, preparing for his third World Cup, in a decisive 59-run stand after Ireland had been in some discomfort at 78 for four. “With someone like Ed it makes it so much easier to come in and bat,” Balbirnie added.
“He tells you exactly that’s going on, he doesn’t make you feel under pressure, he makes everything look so easy.”
Ireland’s opener against an under-strength West Indies has the potential to shape their hopes of getting out of the group stage for the second time in the past three World Cups. “That’s the game everyone has been looking forward to for a long time,” Mooney said. “Everyone is raring to go on Monday.”
Meanwhile Ireland’s chief selector and former captain Alan Lewis admits it is “irritating” that Eoin Morgan will captain England at the World Cup and not be playing for Ireland.
Lewis told the Slog Sweep podcast of his frustration at the loss of Moran and Boyd Rankin to the English ranks — much like Joyce did before switching back.
“It is a wee bit irritating to think where we could be if Eoin and Boyd were available; obviously we’ve got Ed back now,” said Lewis.
“I wouldn’t want to deprive Eoin Morgan the opportunity with the ability he has, I’d want to play at the top level, and in honesty every Irish supporter would wish him well, it’s a great story, but it’s a great frustration.”
Australia and New Zealand, the 2015 World Cup co-hosts, officially opened the tournament last night with concurrent opening ceremonies in Melbourne and Christchurch.
In 45 days’ time Melbourne will stage the final of a tournament that has, since its inception in 1975, become the flagship event for international cricket.
More than one billion people are set to tune in to the World Cup — making it the biggest sporting event of the year.