History will be in the making for Irish cricket when the men’s team line-up against Pakistan for their first-ever Test match at Malahide in Dublin on Friday.
It was a victory against the same opponents in the ICC World Cup 2007 that announced the arrival of Ireland in cricket’s big league.
It has taken them more than a decade since then to achieve full ICC membership but all that hard work will come to fruition on Friday when Irish skipper William Porterfield lines up alongside his opposite counterpart Sarfraz Ahmed for the toss.
JOYCE IN LINE TO BECOME OLDEST DEBUTANT SINCE 1992
The Irish squad for the one-off Test includes many veterans who were present during the 2007 World Cup heroics. Among them is Ed Joyce, the leading run-scorer in Irish cricket. The left-hander actually featured for England in that World Cup despite having had helped Ireland qualify for the very same tournament.
Joyce moved to England in 2005 in the hope of playing Test cricket but returned to Ireland after six years without having achieved that honour. It is only fitting that the 39-year-old gets his Test cap in Irish whites in what will be his 151st appearance for the country. He is set to become the oldest Test debutant since South Africa’s Omar Henry in 1992 (age 40).
YOUNG LOOK TO PAKISTAN
Pakistan have named five uncapped players in their squad for the Test in the form of Faheem Ashraf, Imam-ul-Haq, Saad Ali, Fakhar Zaman and Usman Salahuddin. It only includes young leg-spinner Shadab Khan who has played just one Test match so far in his career. The 19-year-old impressed in Pakistan’s warm-up games alongside Imam-ul-Haq, who is set to make his Test debut on Friday.
On a pitch expected to aid seamers, Pakistan skipper Sarfraz will be hoping Mohammad Amir can bounce back into form after the pacer struggled to pick up wickets in the warm-up matches.
WEATHER COULD PLAY SPOILSPORT
The forecast for Dublin is not looking good for the duration of the Test. Rain is predicted on the majority of days and could scupper the chances of getting in a decent amount of play. The Irish will definitely be hoping the rain gods can smile upon them in what is set to be a momentous occasion.
Ireland: William Porterfield (C), Andrew Balbirnie, Ed Joyce, Tyrone Kane, Andrew McBrine, Tim Murtagh, Kevin O’Brien, Niall O’Brien (wk), Boyd Rankin, James Shannon, Craig Young, Paul Stirling, Stuart Thompson, Gary Wilson (wk),
Pakistan: Sarfraz Ahmed (c, wk), Azhar Ali, Imam-ul-Haq, Sami Aslam, Haris Sohail, Babar Azam, Fakhar Zaman, Saad Ali, Asad Shafiq, Usman Salahuddin, Shadab Khan, Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Abbas, Hasan Ali, Rahat Ali, Faheem Ashraf.
According to ICC’s Future Tour Program (FTP), Bangladesh are slated to play two Tests and three ODIs in Australia during August and September.
This would have been the subcontinent side’s first tour of Australia since 2003.
However, according to a report by ESPNCricinfo, Cricket Australia have decided to cancel the bilateral visit as the country’s free-to-air broadcaster refused to broadcast the series in the midst of the football season.
Cricket Australia (CA) has conveyed the decision to their counterparts at the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) and alternative arrangements are being mulled.
“We have proposed some options and are now waiting for their response.” BCB chief executive Nizamuddin Chowdhury was quoted as saying.
According to the report, one of the options being looked at is Bangladesh touring Australia after the 2019 ICC World Cup.
“The way in which everything works in cricket is that it’s really at the home team’s discretion to work things out as to how much they want to host and what they want to host,” CA chief James Sutherland was quoted as saying by ESPNCricinfo.
“We commit to content in other parts of the world under the previous or current cycle, every six years you are at least committed to playing away. But we don’t have to play at home or we can vary the programme at home according to our needs and I think we just got squeezed a little bit.”
Australia went on a two-Test tour of Bangladesh last year in October which was their first since 2011. The series ended 1-1.
Ireland will be invited to tour Pakistan later this year if the latest reports are anything to go by. Ireland are all set to take on Pakistan in their historic first-ever Test starting from Friday at the Malahide Cricket Stadium in Dublin.
According to a report in the Daily Express, Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chief Najam Sethi will be present in Dublin for the match and will officially invite Ireland to tour the country.
Ireland had previously agreed to tour Pakistan in 2014 but then backed out after an attack on the Karachi airport.
Meanwhile, Cricket Ireland high-performance director Richard Holdsworth has welcomed news of a possible invitation to Pakistan though he has pointed out the security will play a key role in the decision.
“That’s great news if that’s the case, but we are not aware of that yet,” Holdswroth told the Irish Times.
“The PCB have been very supportive of us over the years in Ireland, they’ve travelled here several times for one-day series and obviously now this historic Test.
“So, of course we would want to help them in their way back to international cricket at home. As we did last time, we’ll look at the situation, look at the security. They’ve now had a couple of teams go there recently, which is obviously very encouraging for them and their cricket. And we know what their supporters are like, they’ve been starved of international cricket at home for a long time.
“So, for us, to help play a part in that would be wonderful but we need to obviously look at the situation, talk with them, get advice as we’ve done before and discuss it with our players, which will be the key part of it.”
Though Pakistan have had to play most of their home matches in the UAE since the attacks on the Sri Lankan team bus in 2009, international cricket has returned to the country in a small way in recent times.
The ICC World XI played a historic T20 series in Lahore last year while Sri Lanka and West Indies have also toured Pakistan for bilateral matches.