Ireland to miss big three for Windies A doubleheader

DUBLIN, Ireland, CMC – Ireland’s selectors have named a weakened squad to face West Indies A in two one-day matches next week but coach Phil Simmons believes it will provide the chance to look at new players ahead of next year’s Cricket World Cup.

The 13-man squad will be led by Trent Johnston but will miss regular captain William Porterfield, batsman Niall O’Brien and fast bowler Boyd Rankin who are all tied up with commitments to their English counties.

Off-spinning all-rounder Albert van der Merwe is one of two new players called up for the first time along with fast bowler Craig Young.

“The county players have one and four-day games over the period, so we have to plan without them,” said Simmons.

“It’s always a balancing act with the counties, and we’ve got bigger games ahead.”

Ireland are scheduled to meet the touring West Indies A in the first of the two matches on June 23 before facing the Caribbean side again two days later.

Windies A are currently on tour of England and are carded to face India A in the second four-day “Test” starting tomorrow.

They lost the opening “Test” against India A last week.

Simmons, a former West Indies all-rounder, said there were several players who would get chances with the experienced players missing.

“We’re looking at alternatives in the bowling. The quick bowling is our weakest area, so it’s a chance for us to try out Craig Young to see what he can do, and also for Phil Eaglestone who has been on the periphery now for a few seasons,” Simmons explained.

“In the spin department, Albert van der Merwe has started the season well with his club, so he’ll get his opportunity. It’ll be a chance too for me to see [wicketkeeper] Rory McCann with Niall unavailable.”

Simmons said while the team would be weakened by the unavailability of the key players, the outing would be important in view of the 2011 Cricket World Cup.

“The World Cup is really our primary focus at the minute. We’ve got to see what depth we have for that,” he said.

SQUAD – Trent Johnston (captain) Andre Botha, Alex Cusack, George Dockrell, Phil Eaglestone, Nigel Jones, John Mooney, Kevin O’Brien, Andrew Poynter, Paul Stirling, Albert van der Merwe, Andrew White, Gary Wilson.

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