Ireland give youth a chance against England's world champions

Curtis Campher and Harry Tector included in Irish cricket squad
Ireland give youth a chance against England's world champions
Harry Tector

Ireland are investing in youth as they face into the first of three ODIs against England's world champions at Southampton's Ageas Bowl on Thursday.

Veteran players including captain Andy Balbirnie, vice-skipper Paul Stirling and bowler Boyd Rankin have been named in a 14-man squad for the game alongside fresher faces such as Curtis Campher and Harry Tector for the team's first action of the summer.

The side has prepped for this series – their first cricket in four months - with an intra-squad warm-up and a defeat to the England Lions at the Ageas Bowl, a bio-bubble setting which is acting as both venue and home for Graham Ford's squad until they return home next week.

These ODIs are not only a great opportunity for our squad to test themselves against the world champions, but are extremely important in the context of qualification for the 2023 Cricket World Cup,” said Andrew White, chair of the selectors.

Every player in our squad is lacking game time as a result of the lockdown, so the two warm-up games gave the players an opportunity to gain their first competitive action since early March and there were some very positive performances on display over those two matches.

However, our deliberations on selection took into account not only those two warm-up games, but also form shown earlier in the year before lockdown.

In addition, we also took into account that we have a larger squad here than would be normal, so we decided on a side for the first game only at this point. This means that the eight players who miss out on this playing squad may still have an opportunity to feature in the series.”

The unique circumstances brought on by Covid-19 have resulted in tweaks to the rules, as with football where extra subs and drinks breaks were introduced. It means that teams can make substitutions from their 14-man pool at any time.

The selection of Campher, aged just 21, and Tector, who is a year younger, are of particular interest.

The former, originally from South Africa but the holder of an Irish passport, is a middle-order batsman and medium-fast bowler who has been called up to the senior squad for the first time after impressing with bat and ball for Ireland Wolves against Namibia in February.

Tector is another all-rounder who is in line to make his ODI debut after 20 appearances for Ireland in T20 although there is no place this time for Mark Adair who was Ireland's leading wicket-taker in 2019 but underwent surgery earlier this year and hasn't played since January.

Ireland will be facing an England team that is holding its own experiments. Captained by Dubliner Eoin Morgan, the hosts will be without a rump of major stars, among them Joe Root, Ben Stokes and Jofra Archer who have been facing West Indies this week in a Test series at Old Trafford.

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