Ireland’s One-Day International against England at Malahide on Friday isn’t just about gaining bragging rights over the old enemy.
As captain William Porterfield stressed on Thursday, beating England for the first time on Irish soil is absolutely pivotal to Ireland’s hopes of securing more internationals against Test playing nations.
Despite Ireland’s remarkable performances at the 2011 World Cup in the subcontinent, and in this year’s competition in Australia and New Zealand, in between they largely remain stuck in the international wilderness.
Just nine internationals outside of the World Cup in four years tells its own story and with the ICC seemingly determined to reduce the number of countries at the next competition in England, Ireland seemingly need to keep reminding the administrators of their quality.
“A lot of touring sides go to England and it’s not that far across here,” said Porterfield.
“We want sides in the top 10 to play us. We have broken into that ourselves now and these are fixtures (against England) that we are crying out for.
“We spoke about it openly over the last few months. We have played just nine games against the big countries in the last four years between World Cups.
“Hopefully this game is the start of something, if the ODI table and rankings for 2019 are the thing to go by then we are going to need more fixtures.”
Porterfield struck a wonderful century the last time the countries met in Malahide two years ago.
It was a glorious batting pitch that day but the recent rain makes a repeat unlikely. A near capacity crowd of 10,000 will be crossing their fingers that the forecasted rain stays away.
To some, Ireland may even start as favourites with England’s Test players from the West Indies tour rested in favour of a group of emerging young talent captained by James Taylor of Nottinghamshire.
Steven Finn and Tim Bresnan are seasoned performers with the ball while Mark Wood and Adil Rashid went to the Caribbean without featuring in a Test match. Sam Billings, James Vince and Lewis Gregory head an exciting list of potential debutants.
Porterfield said: “There are a lot of new faces in there, a lot of people we would know from around the county circuit, lads who have been knocking on the door for England calls.
“It is very much an England one-day side they’re looking to for the future. They will be nervous, a lot of players making their debuts.
“Hopefully we can bring that confidence from the World Cup into this game.
“We go into every game looking to win and since the World Cup this is the game we’ve all been looking forward to. The lads are confident and raring to go.”
Squads: Ireland: W Porterfield (capt), A Balbirnie, A Cusack, G Dockrell, E Joyce, A McBrine, J Mooney, K O’Brien, N O’Brien, P Stirling, S Thompson, G Wilson, C Young
England: J Taylor (capt), Z Ansari, J Bairstow, S Billings, T Bresnan, S Finn, L Gregory, A Hales, A Rashid, J Roy, J Vince, D Willey, M Wood