CRICKET: Ed Joyce commits to full-time Ireland contract

Ed Joyce has committed to a full-time contract with Ireland.
Ed Joyce has committed to a full-time contract with Ireland.

Ed Joyce is one of ten players to agree a central category-A contract with Cricket Ireland in the list released today by the governing body.

There are also three newcomers to full contracts, including Irish Player of the Year John Anderson, Andrew Balbirnie, and Jacob Mulder.

The commitment of Joyce to both Ireland and the Hanley Energy Inter-Provincial Series is a real boost as Ireland continues to strive towards Test cricket.

“Coming back to play full-time for Ireland and also play in the Inter-Provincial series was a big decision but also quite an easy one in the end,” he said.

“Test cricket is the pinnacle for any cricketer. Ireland has a huge opportunity in the next few years to play at the highest level and I want to be part of the team that plays Ireland’s first test match.

“With Ireland’s fixture list growing year on year it makes sense to come back at this stage,” he added.

“Also now that the interpros have first class and list-A status, I wanted to be involved right from the start and lend my experience to that competition.

“We’re at the stage where we need to be more consistent and competitive as an international side and we also require the interpros to improve and provide a steady stream of players ready to perform well for Ireland. My focus in the next few years while I’m still playing, is to help us achieve both of these goals,” said Joyce.

“It’s a really exciting time to be an Irish cricketer and I can’t wait for the 2017 season to get going.”

Ireland have ODIs in 2017 against New Zealand, Bangladesh, and West Indies on home soil, as well as playing England at Bristol and Lord’s.

Cricket Ireland Performance Director Richard Holdsworth has welcomed Joyce’s decision to play a full role in the coming season.

“We are delighted Ed has agreed to return home to play in Ireland’s inaugural season of domestic first-class cricket.

“It has been one of our strategic objectives to bring players back home from England and for Ed to be the first is very appropriate,” he said.

“He has given great service to Sussex as an outstanding batsman and leader, and we are grateful for their support to Ed’s Ireland career over those years.

“Ed will not only be based here in Ireland training with the national squad, but will also help our next generation of international cricketers in a specialist batting and leadership coaching role, working with the Shapoorji Pallonji National Academy and Ireland youth squads as well as mentoring some national performance squad players.”

Nine others players have agreed category-B contracts - those with other employers, such as county cricketers.

New players include Barry McCarthy and Greg Thompson, while Niall O’Brien - no longer playing county cricket - will play his first season of Inter-Provincial cricket, as well as taking on a new specialist wicket-keeping role.

Further incremental contracts will be announced in due course.

National Performance Squad - player contracts 2017:

Category A (10):

John Anderson (Merrion/Leinster Lightning, Andrew Balbirnie (Pembroke/Leinster Lightning), Peter Chase (Malahide/Leinster Lightning); George Dockrell (Leinster/Leinster Lightning); Ed Joyce (Leinster Lightning), Andrew McBrine (Donemana/NW Warriors), Jacob Mulder (CIYMS/Northern Knights), Kevin O’Brien (Railway Union/Leinster Lightning), Stuart Thompson (Eglinton/NW Warriors), Craig Young (Bready/NW Warriors).

Category B (9):

Barry McCarthy (Durham/Leinster Lightning), Tim Murtagh (Middlesex), Niall O’Brien (Leinster Lightning); William Porterfield (Warwickshire), Stuart Poynter (Durham/Leinster Lightning), Boyd Rankin (Warwickshire), Paul Stirling (Middlesex), Greg Thompson (Waringstown/Northern Knights), Gary Wilson (Derbyshire/Northern Knights).