x

Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 20 June 2018

Joyce, Rankin and Balbirnie: Three players key to Ireland's progress in Test cricket

Ireland take on Pakistan in Dublin in their first Test match, starting Friday

Ed Joyce in action for Ireland against the UAE in January. Chris Whiteoak / The National
Ed Joyce in action for Ireland against the UAE in January. Chris Whiteoak / The National

Ireland’s 14-man squad for their first Test, against Pakistan starting on Friday, might be light on experience in the format. But many of them have had long and impressive international careers. Here are three players who could be up to speed straight away.

Niall O’Brien full of belief as Ireland make long-awaited Test debut against Pakitsan

Ed Joyce

The left-handed batsman turns 40 later this year, so it might be fair to assume his Test career is starting when he is past his physical peak.

A knee injury hampered his form at the World Cup Qualifier in Zimbabwe in March, but a fine one-day international century against UAE in Dubai in January suggested he has plenty of runs left in him.

______________

Read more:

10@10 podcast: Interview with David East on cricket's importance in the UAE

'Big loss' for Pakistan as Yasir Shah ruled out of Ireland and England tours

Nepal cricket team to face MCC and Dutch at Lord's stadium in London

______________

Boyd Rankin. Nezar Belout / AFP
Boyd Rankin. Nezar Belout / AFP

Boyd Rankin

The one player in the Irish ranks with Test experience to call on – although he might not want to revisit it.

The towering fast-bowler was on and off the field with injury in his lone match for England on their shambolic Ashes tour to Australia in 2014.

The bounce and pace he generates with the ball make Rankin the most likely threat to the Pakistan batsmen.

Andrew Balbirnie. ICC
Andrew Balbirnie. ICC

Andrew Balbirnie

The former Ireland Under 19 captain is perhaps the most technically polished batsman in their line-up.

His World Cup Qualifier campaign in Harare started indifferently with a run of single-figure scores, but his recent form has been strong.

He made a century against Scotland in Zimbabwe, and hit an unbeaten one in Leinster’s first-class match last week.