Ireland’s men play host to sides who are looking to acclimatise to colder conditions ahead of the World Cup in England later this month.
Ireland failed to qualify for the ten-team World Cup after losing to Afghanistan in the Super Sixes stage last March but still face a busy month ahead as World Cup preparations start.
The Boys in Green will start the summer with the visit of England to Malahide on Friday, while also playing Bangladesh and New Zealand in a tri-series in Dublin, before finishing the month with games against Afghanistan in Belfast.
Ireland welcome the old enemy to Dublin for their third visit to Malahide in recent years. England will be led by Eoin Morgan, who returns to his old stomping ground having played for Malahide in the early 2000s.
Morgan last played for Ireland in 2009 before opting to pursue a career with the Three Lions. The Dubliner has been credited as the man behind England’s recent transformation in white-ball cricket, which has seen them now become one of the world’s most destructive side.
Both sides have been on different journeys since the last World Cup, Ireland won a game more than England did in 2015 but have struggled since after a spate of retirements left them with major gaps to fill in the team especially in the batting department.
Andy Balbirnie and Paul Stirling were Ireland’s standout batsman during the Afghanistan series in the winter and will be looking to carry on from where they left off in the green jersey.
Ireland will be also hope their senior pace bowler Tim Murtagh can make the most of home-conditions. Murtagh, now aged thirty-seven, has started the season well for his county Middlesex in England and will be key if Ireland are to claim a few scalps.
The Tri-Series will then take place in Clontarf and Malahide from the 5th to the 17th and give further opportunities to some of the fringe players to stamp their mark on international cricket.
Bangladesh will play their first match since getting caught up in the Christchurch Terror Attack. The team, who were on tour in New Zealand, were on the way to worship at the nearby Mosque before escaping the scene after hearing gun-shots.
While the flamboyant West Indies team will be looking to get to grips with the similar conditions they’ll face in England with many tipping them to be the ‘dark-horse’ at this year’s World Cup.
The Boys in Green will then finish May with games against Afghanistan up in Belfast. They are coached by former Irish Head Coach Phil Simmons while former Irish international John Mooney is also among their backroom staff. Afghanistan will be playing in just their second World Cup having made their debut in 2015.
Graham Ford’s charges will then turn their attention to red ball cricket as they will travel alongside the Blarney Army to London for a historic four-day Test match at Lords against England, the first between the two sides.
In other cricket news, Cricket Ireland have also linked up with Cricket Scotland and KNCB to create the “Euro T20 Slam” which will attract some star-studded names to the tournament in September and it’s hoped will give more opportunities for the younger players coming through the ranks.
It will consist of two teams from each country, Ireland’s two city-based franchises are the Dublin Chiefs and the Belfast Titans.
Ireland Men’s squad (for matches on 3, 5, 9 May)
William Porterfield (captain), Andrew Balbirnie, George Dockrell, Josh Little, Andrew McBrine, Barry McCarthy, James McCollum, Tim Murtagh, Kevin O’Brien, Boyd Rankin, Paul Stirling, Stuart Thompson, Lorcan Tucker, Gary Wilson.