Irish selectors leave out Andrew Poynter and Max Sorensen for UAE tour

Max Sorensen has been omitted from Ireland's squad for next month's UAE tour
Max Sorensen has been omitted from Ireland's squad for next month's UAE tour

Ireland’s cricket selectors sparked controversy on Thursday after excluding Max Sorensen and Andrew Poynter from what is likely to be their squad for next year’s World Cup.

Sorensen, the fast bowler, and Poynter, the Clontarf batsmen, were the shock exclusions from the 15-man panel to tour the UAE from January 4 to 19.

Ireland will play four One-Day Internationals in Dubai against Scotland and Afghanistan and although the official line is that the World Cup squad will not be submitted to the ICC until early in January, barring injury these are effectively the men who will travel Down Under.

The selectors have gone for youth to an extent by picking fast bowler Peter Chase and North West trio Craig Young, Andy McBrine and Stuart Thompson but there will be eye-brows raised at the selection of Alex Cusack, the injury-ravaged veteran all-rounder.

Cusack’s best days were thought to be behind him and the hard pitches of Australia will hardly suit his medium-pacers. It is difficult to see how his bowling style would be more appropriate for the conditions than Sorensen’s, or indeed how his sometimes plodding batting could be consider more effective than the far more dynamic Poynter.

Andrew White, the Instonians all-rounder, is also excluded although he will have been resigned to his fate after breaking a finger during the acclimatisation tour of Australia and New Zeland in the autumn. There are also no places for paceman Graeme McCarter or the Sydney-born Irish passport holder Nick Larkin, who recently made his debut for New South Wales in Australian’s Sheffield Shield competition.

It is difficult to know who will be more crestfallen – Sorensen or Poynter. Sorensen had impressed so much earlier this year that he was in the running to be named Ireland’s international cricketer of the year but the emergence of Young and an untimely injury appear to have cost him dearly. Poynter, the interprovincial player of the year, will be wondering what more he could have done to make the cut.

John Mooney, the all-rounder, will be on the plane after a stress-related illness caused him to leave a tour of the West Indies in February and appeared to cast down on his international future

Coach Phil Simmons reminded those left out of the squad that an injury could still give them a reprieve.

He said: “For players like Max Sorensen and Andrew Poynter to miss out is testament to the competitive nature of the contracted players which is exactly what the selectors were looking for. There will naturally be disappointment and debate, but ups and downs are all part of sport. Both will know that one injury could create an opportunity and this will be no different for young guns Stuart Poynter and Graeme McCarter who have also impressed so much over the last few months.”

Squad: William Porterfield (Captain) (Warwickshire), Andrew Balbirnie (Middlesex), Peter Chase (Malahide), Alex Cusack (Clontarf), George Dockrell (Somerset), Ed Joyce (Sussex), Andrew McBrine (Donemana), John Mooney (North County), Tim Murtagh (Middlesex), Kevin O’Brien (Railway Union), Niall O’Brien (Leicestershire), Paul Stirling (Middlesex), Stuart Thompson (Eglinton), Gary Wilson (Surrey), Craig Young (Bready).