William Porterfield will lead an experienced Ireland side in the ICC World Cup Qualifiers in March. Cricket Ireland announced their 15-man squad for the event, with more than half the squad – 8 players – having over 100 international caps to their name.
Ireland won a tri-nation series in the UAE last week that also included Afghanistan and Scotland, and 13 of the 15 players that were part of that squad make the cut. The only absentees are Stuart Poynter and Jacob Mulder. Poynter’s wife is due to give birth in March, making Mulder the only one who missed out due to tactical reasons.
27-year old James Shannon, who had a prolific 2017 with Northern Knights, comes back into the side. He will be hoping to add to the solitary cap he won for Ireland nearly five years ago, when he played against Pakistan. Tim Murtagh also returns to the squad after missing out on the tri-nation series.
Porterfield, who will be bidding to play in his fourth World Cup in 2019, said: “It’s going to be a really hard-fought tournament with nearly all the sides in with a genuine chance of qualification. There are certainly no ‘gimmes’ in the competition. It’s a pity there are only two places up for grabs.
“We’ve got a good record against the Windies, beating them in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015, so we’ll take confidence from that. The Netherlands have got some big players back in recent times, so they’ll be tough, while PNG are improving all the time. We will be at full strength for the competition, so hopefully if we play to our strengths we’ll make it through to the United Kingdom in 2019 and our fourth straight World Cup.”
Ireland are in Group A of the qualifiers, alongside West Indies, Netherlands, Papua New Guinea and the winners of the ICC World Cricket League Division 2. They will need to finish in the top three of Group A to advance to the Super Six stage, then finish in the top two to qualify for the World Cup. The qualifiers run from March 4 to 25 in Zimbabwe.