Andrew White, the chair of national men’s selectors for Cricket Ireland, has singled out the weekend Test Triangle Inter-Provincial T20 Festival as a potential bonus for the national panel.
Ireland head into a key six-month spell set to culminate in a World Cup Qualifier campaign and White views the run of fixtures connected to the festival as cause for cheer.
The programme opened on Friday with a friendly between Leinster Lightning and Middlesex before three games within the Test Triangle Inter-Provincial T20 Festival.
Former international White, who was capped 232 times for Ireland before retiring in 2014, believes the importance of the weekend goes far beyond the immediate challenge for Irish players in the inter-provincial arena and serves as a crucial part of the build-up for the next six months.
“It’s an important period coming up,” said White at the Pembroke club. “Obviously the Ireland Wolves play Zimbabwe on Saturday 29th at Eglinton, which is another great opportunity for the Wolves players, who will be chomping at the bit to get another win over a Test-playing nation after beating Bangladesh earlier on in the year.
“Then there’s the International series - three one-dayers and three T20Is.
“We saw some good performances in the recent ODI Tri-Series, but we probably didn’t put 100 overs together in the same game.
“There were some good signs with the bat, and on occasion some good signs with ball, so the coaching staff will be looking for the squad to put in some strong and, ultimately, match-winning performances with both bat and ball together against Zimbabwe.
“Then there is the big one at the end of the year, the T20 World Cup qualifier which is obviously massively important.
“The timing of this Festival in Pembroke has been excellent, it is a brilliant way of getting a look at players across three good days of cricket.
“With Zimbabwe coming over in the next couple of days, the Festival is allowing the players to get their skills in operation and we’ve seen some excellent performances to date.
“It’s threefold really, for the guys in the T20 squad it gives them an opportunity to put in some performances and gain confidence going into the series with Zimbabwe.
“But we’re also looking for some of the fringe players and Wolves players to kick on and put their name in the hat for selection.
“Then, of course, you’re looking to unearth some gems through some outstanding performances that will hopefully give us a few selection headaches for the period coming up.
“I think, taking into account the Leinster v Middlesex game - a great spectacle – there have been some good performances there...on the whole it’s been really good and a great way to showcase the T20 format.”