Kevin O'Brien returns from injury for African tour
Ireland all-rounder Kevin O'Brien has recovered from a hamstring injury to feature in the Ireland squad selected to tour Zimbabwe and Namibia in October.
Ireland will play three One-Day Internationals against Zimbabwe and a four-day match against Zimbabwe A, before taking on Namibia in the second round of the International Cricket Council Intercontinental Cup.
The Ireland selectors have also named Stuart Poynter for the games against Zimbabwe, marking the two changes to the squad which faced Australia in an ODI in August.
Ireland captain, William Porterfield expressed his delight at having a full strength squad at his disposal for the African tour.
“It’s fantastic that everyone is fit and raring to go for the tour.
“We know it’s going to be a good test but it’ll be one we’re well prepared for.”
The two teams faced each other for the very first time in the 2007 World Cup in a dramatic tied contest, while Ireland managed a five-wicket win in their group stage encounter of the 2015 World Cup.
Expecting another close contest against Zimbabwe, Porterfield was confident that his side will do well in the upcoming series.
“We’ve been involved in some great games with Zimbabwe over the years and I’m certain this series will bring more of the same.
“We all remember the World Cup games, with the tie in the West Indies in 2007 and our five run win in Hobart at the start of the year.
“I don’t think there’s too much between the sides and I guess the ICC rankings reflect that.
“We’ve a lot of experienced campaigners in our squad, and I’m confident we’ll do well in the games.”
In June this year, Ireland got off to a good start in the ongoing edition of the ICC Intercontinental Cup, by scoring an innings victory against the United Arab Emirates.
Current title holders, Ireland, have won the Intercontinental cup a record four times, including the hat-trick of wins in the 2005, 2006-07, and 2007-08 editions.
Porterfield wants to continue his team’s winning record when they face Namibia in Windhoek for their second game in this edition.
“We’ve made a winning start with a solid win over the UAE, and we’ll be looking to continue that against Namibia.
“They can be a dangerous side - especially in their home conditions - but we’re backing ourselves to continue our excellent record in this competition.”
This edition of the Intercontinental Cup has an added advantage wherein the winner will qualify to play Test cricket in 2019.
Iterating that it was Ireland’s ambition to attain Test status, Porterfield urged his team to utilise the incentive on offer.
“We’re the holders and have won the event four times.
“There’s obviously the extra incentive this time with the chance to qualify to play Test cricket, and that’s the ambition of everyone at Cricket Ireland.”
Ireland last toured Zimbabwe for a bilateral ODI series in September 2010, a three-match contest that the hosts won with a 2-1 margin.
Ireland squad for tour of Zimbabwe and Namibia:
William Porterfield (captain), Andrew Balbirnie, George Dockrell, Ed Joyce, John Mooney, Tim Murtagh, Andrew McBrine, Kevin O’Brien, Niall O’Brien, Stuart Poynter*, Max Sorensen (The ), Paul Stirling, Stuart Thompson, Gary Wilson, Craig Young
*Zimbabwe tour only.
© Cricket World 2015