Ireland and Scotland begin their build up to the World T20 qualifying tournament, which is scheduled to begin on July 9th, with a three match T20 series beginning on Thursday. All three matches are scheduled to be played at Bready Cricket Club, Magheramason near Londonderry.
Both sides will be keen for the weather to stay fine, so that they can gather as much match practice as possible before the qualifiers begin with the hosts Scotland playing the UAE in Edinburgh. Only the top six sides, from the 14 competing nations, will progress to join the 10 ICC Full Members at the 2016 World Twenty20, which will be held in India between mid-March and Early April next year.
Kevin O’Brien, one of the iconic faces of Irish international cricket, will lead the side in the Scottish fixtures. Regular skipper William Porterfield, along with wicketkeeper Gary Wilson and Niall O’Brien all being absent due their commitments with their English County sides.
The selectors have rewarded the 20 year-old all-rounder, Tyrone Kane, for his impressive form in the domestic T20 tournament, where he took a hat-trick playing for Merrion against the Northern Knights, followed by five North West warriors wickets .Not only is the youngster in the squad for the Scotland series, but has also been named for the qualifying tournament.
Although Ireland have suffered the blow of the experienced Ed Joyce and Tim Murtagh both retiring from the T20 game, in the hope of extending their careers in the ODI and “Test” match formats of the game, they still have a blend of youth and experience, and are still able to call on a core of players who appear in the English County game.
Although the World Cup was played over the longer distance of 50-overs, Ireland will look to push on from their performance in Australasia, where they came so close to claiming a place in the knockout stages, while Scotland will look to bounce back after a disappointing tournament, where they were rarely competitive against the stronger nations.