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Category: Ireland Cricket Team

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Ireland hope to avoid falling victim to slimmed down Cricket World Cup | The Spin

In March 10 sides will fight for two remaining places at the 2019 tournament and in-form Ireland face a tough battle to qualifyOn Thursday, Ireland play a Northerns/Easterns XI in Pretoria. This is the opening skirmish in a battle of the utmost importa…

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England v Ireland: second one-day international – live!

10.42am BST

England resist the temptation to change a winning team, which is understandable but perhaps harsh on Moeen Ali. Ireland make one change, bringing in Barry McCarthy for Stuart Thompson, one seamer for another. You may not have heard of McCarthy, but he has two four-fors in ODIs, which is two more than Mark Wood, for all his pace, has in 50-over cricket.

10.36am BST

Heads, says William Porterfield, and heads it is. He opts to have a bowl, for obvious reasons: “it’s a bit cold, and there’s a bit of cloud around”. Eoin Morgan confirms that he would have done the same.

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England v Ireland: second one-day international – live!

10.42am BST

England resist the temptation to change a winning team, which is understandable but perhaps harsh on Moeen Ali. Ireland make one change, bringing in Barry McCarthy for Stuart Thompson, one seamer for another. You may not have heard of McCarthy, but he has two four-fors in ODIs, which is two more than Mark Wood, for all his pace, has in 50-over cricket.

10.36am BST

Heads, says William Porterfield, and heads it is. He opts to have a bowl, for obvious reasons: “it’s a bit cold, and there’s a bit of cloud around”. Eoin Morgan confirms that he would have done the same.

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England v Ireland: first ODI – live!

11.56am BST

13th over: Ireland 64-2 (Porterfield 5, Balbirnie 15) Plunkett comes on at the other end, and he swiftly finds the edge of Balbirnie’s bat. The ball flies straight to that non-existent second slip again, and off for a second successive four, the first having gone in a similar direction, but more deliberately. The bowler looks miffed.

11.51am BST

12th over: Ireland 54-2 (Porterfield 4, Balbirnie 5) The first bowling change sees Ball replace Wood and he delivers the ball of the day so far, angled into the left-handed Porterfield and moving away off the seam, just past the bat. Lovely stuff, that.

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Top-table seat a dream come true but Test status not the holy grail for Ireland | Ali Martin

Although the green light to become a Test-playing nation is expected in June the priority for ambitious Ireland is to make cricket a major sport at home

In recent years the prospect of playing Test cricket has inched from the grasp of Ireland like the grapes hanging over Tantalus but this year the dream looks set to become a reality. The two-match one‑day series in England that begins on Friday is both a historic first visit and perhaps the last time the men in green will be seen here in their current guise.

Associate members of the International Cricket Council since 1993 and given one‑day status in 2006, Ireland are buoyed by the news that came out of the board meeting of the governing body in Dubai last week. Subject to approval in June, the path will be cleared for them, and most likely Afghanistan, to apply for Test status and begin a new era at the top table.

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England bank on Mark Wood’s firepower to torpedo Ireland hopes of shock

The Durham bowler’s selection for the two-match ODI series reflects the need for someone who can snatch wickets via extra pace at the Champions Trophy

For the first time England have an ODI series against Ireland. The series lasts for only two matches but this is a landmark of sorts and allows England, at home, preparation for an international summer devoted to white-ball cricket until July.

Meanwhile the Irish always relish the chance to upset the odds (when last in Dublin for a match the wifi code in the press box was Bangalore2011). On Friday the two teams meet at Bristol; on Sunday they are at Lord’s, where only a handful of tickets are still available.

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Sam Curran may seal England ODI place against Ireland on back of IPL absentees

• Selectors keen to see Surrey’s 18-year-old all-rounder close up
• Ben Stokes and Chris Woakes will stay with franchises and miss May series

Sam Curran could be a surprise beneficiary of the recent English success in the Indian Premier League auction, with Surrey’s teenage all-rounder now in line for an England call-up to face Ireland in two ODIs in May in the absence of Ben Stokes and Chris Woakes.

Related: Thangarasu Natarajan’s Punjab deal the latest product of IPL’s dream factory | The Spin

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ICC’s World T20 plan leaves Ireland, Netherlands and co as mere footnote | Andy Bull

Preservation of the most successful nations at the top of the game is irking those scrapping below – where getting your voice heard is a challenge in itself

For all its accomplishments, it seems there are still one or two little things the International Cricket Council struggles with. Like staging major international events, and supporting the development of the sport around the world. Which is unfortunate, since these are really the only two things it needs to do, and essentially comprise all four components of the ICC’s official ‘mission statement’:

Provide a world class environment for international cricket

Deliver ‘major’ events across three formats

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Ireland end disappointing World T20 campaign with Netherlands defeat

• Netherlands 59-5 (6.0) beat Ireland 47-7 by 12 runs
• Ireland end World T20 tournament without a win

Ireland ended their disappointing World Twenty20 campaign with a 12-run defeat to the Netherlands in a match reduced to six overs a side on account of rain in Dharamsala. Ireland were already out of contention to qualify for the Super 10 stage after a shock defeat to Oman was followed by a washout against Bangladesh and Will Porterfield’s side failed to chase 60 and finish with a morale-boosting triumph.

Related: The Agenda: England women launch World T20 bid and Every hat-trick in sight

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Ireland’s World Twenty20 hopes dashed by Bangladesh abandonment

• Bangladesh 94-2 off eight overs; rain denies Ireland chance to reply
• Ireland fail to qualify for Super 10 stage against Test sides

Ireland are out of the ICC World Twenty20 after heavy rain prevented a result in their match against Bangladesh in Dharamsala. The rain relented temporarily to allow William Porterfield’s team to start a contest already reduced to 12 overs per side.

But after Tamim Iqbal powered Bangladesh to 94 for two in only eight of those overs, rain and lightning returned.

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Ireland stunned by Oman in World Twenty20 opener

• Ireland 154-5; Oman 157-8; Oman won by two wickets
• Oman score 14 runs in Max Sorensen’s final over to claim victory

Ireland suffered a shock two-wicket defeat against Oman in their ICC World Twenty20 opener in Dharamsala.

William Porterfield’s men were unable to defend 154 for five, and 14 runs in Max Sorensen’s final over, as Oman marked their debut in a global tournament by sealing a nail-biting success with two balls to spare.

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Boyd Rankin returns to Ireland hoping for T20 impact – and eventually Tests

After a chastening experience with England, Rankin is back in Irish colours and relishing the opportunity to help push for Test status and, this month, progress at the World T20

It is in Dharamsala, situated in the outer Himalayas towards the north of the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh, where Ireland will begin their latest ascent on the global summit, as the World Twenty20 gets under way this week in the shape of its first-round qualifying tournament.

The HPCA Stadium, among the most breathtaking grounds in world cricket thanks to the Toblerone of snow-capped peaks that runs from one end of the horizon to the other, plays host to Group A, where Oman, the Netherlands and Bangladesh lie in wait for William Porterfield’s side.

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Ireland welcome ‘opportunity’ offered by ICC’s two-division Test plan

• Cricket Ireland’s Warren Deutrom says plan would boost game’s profile
• Promotion and relegation is ‘meritocratic and driven by context’

Cricket Ireland’s chief executive, Warren Deutrom, has welcomed the International Cricket Council’s proposals to create two divisions in Test cricket. He described the idea as something “we have been pressing for ever since I’ve become involved in Irish cricket”, and said that it could “propel cricket even further into the mainstream of Irish sport”.

Related: ICC ponders two divisions for Test cricket in radical shake-up

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Boyd Rankin and Tim Murtagh named in Ireland’s World Twenty20 squad

• Former England paceman Rankin switches allegiance back to Ireland
• Murtagh reverses decision to retire from short form of game

Boyd Rankin and Tim Murtagh will lead the attack for Ireland at next month’s World Twenty20 after both were named in an experienced 15-man squad.

The paceman Rankin recently switched his allegiance back to Ireland after representing England since August 2012 and took six wickets in an ICC Intercontinental Cup win over Papua New Guinea last month.

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Ireland to replace Australia at Under-19 Cricket World Cup in Bangladesh

• Australia withdrew on Tuesday citing security concerns
• Ireland will face India, Nepal and New Zealand in Group D

Ireland will take Australia’s place at the Under-19 Cricket World Cup in Bangladesh later this month despite concerns over security.

Related: South Africa’s newspapers pay tribute to ‘son of transformation’ Temba Bavuma

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The Agenda: Mo Farah is back running at the Diamond League in Zurich

Farah heads cast but 100m looks to be fast; Justin Rose and Rory McIlroy go for the Scottish Open; Scotland and Ireland chase World T20 qualification

There will be no Usain Bolt at the IAAF Diamond League in Lausanne on Thursday (7pm, British Eurosport) – the Olympic hero and wifi salesman is sidelined with a pelvic injury – but there is plenty of interest in Switzerland in the lean shape of Mo Farah, who will compete for the first time since the doping scandal surrounding his coach, Alberto Salazar, and his inability to hear his own doorbell blew up last month. Farah has bullishly maintained his cleanness and is sticking by Salazar for now, and no doubt Britain’s double Olympic champion will be happy to focus firmly on the track as he prepares for next month’s world championships. The men’s 100m will still be fascinating without Bolt, with Justin Gatlin, Asafa Powell and Tyson Gay lining up.

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England’s new boys show some promise before Ireland game is rained off

• Match abandoned after 18 overs
• Ireland 56/4 before rain stopped play
Moores to lose England job once Strauss takes charge

At midday the news broke that Peter Moores was set to be removed as England’s head coach. Five minutes later the rain falling on the Malahide Cricket Club had become too heavy to continue and the players trudged off the field. By 3.10pm the match was abandoned.

Just 18 overs were bowled with four Irish wickets claimed at a cost of 56 runs. But while this brief glimpse of the new generation of England one-day cricketers had offered flashes of encouragement – including strikes for two of the five debutants on show – the fixture finished a damp squib. And the cricket will not be what it is remembered for.

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Ireland v England: ODI – live!

2.07pm BST

On radio and screen, the argument is simultaneously being made for Ireland to play the major nations more often – Cricket Ireland chief executive Warren Deutrom is talking to TMS about the way forward for countries such as theirs, while Sky is showing highlights of Ireland’s terrific win over West Indies at the World Cup. Are you listening/watching ICC?

It’s still raining in Malahide.

1.56pm BST

Rain calculations latest: set your alarm clocks for 5.37pm folks. That’s the time by which play would have to resume for there to be hope of completing a 20-overs-a-side match. Though they may, of course, knock it on the head long before that. In which case why not sleep through the afternoon?

1.51pm BST

Afternoon everyone, Tom here for, well, I’m not sure how long really. But let’s hope the players are enjoying with their lunch eh – likely the last spent discussing data and skillsets with Peter Moores, who’s set to be packing his laptop bag when Andrew Strauss gets his feet under the table as director of cricket.

“Whoever answers prayers for rain should be sacked for failing to get the right match,” thunders Ian Copestake. So what was the right match?

1.45pm BST

With the rain still falling I’m going to step away from this gripping drip-by-drip narrative and hand over to Tom Davies, who will take you through the rest of the day’s rain. And play, if there is any. At least we’ll always have those 18 overs. Anyway, all emails to tom.davies@theguardian.com if you’d be so kind. Bye!

1.29pm BST

The players’ lunch is going to be served in a minute or so (1.30pm BST), so there’ll certainly be no action for a while.

1.23pm BST

Nice to see some fans are so committed they’re currently cheering on the groundsmen and the covers.

Decamped to a malahide bar #IrevEng pic.twitter.com/QnhLni5x8Z

1.20pm BST

Another update from Ireland. It is no more encouraging than the last.

@Simon_Burnton In Donabate across the estuary from #IrevEng in Malahide. Rain is down for the day, denying us another game against Test oppo

1.11pm BST

Our man on the ground says he’s off to the pub. I’m not entirely sure that he ever left the pub.

@Simon_Burnton well ahead of TMS, en route to the pub, u don’t schedule matches in Ireland in May it’s going 2 rain, it’s Ireland! Slainte!

1.05pm BST

“We think that’s it for the day,” reports TMS.

1.02pm BST

It looks profoundly soggy out there. I’m not sure how much water the ground can take before it becomes irredeemably damp.

12.56pm BST

“Any way to blame the Tories for the rain?” wonders Neil Connolly. I can’t really see how, to be honest, and it’s not like we’re short of other things to blame them for. “Incidentally, while it’s raining and Ireland are playing, did you know that ‘Tory’ is an Irish word?” I did not know that. “A class of robbers noted for outrages and savage cruelty”, you say. Hmmm.

12.40pm BST

The skies in Ireland are looking pretty dreary, so I think anyone intent on following every moment of this game can fairly safely pop out for some lunch approximately nowish. If there’s any change, I’ll let you know as soon as it happens.

12.29pm BST

“What happens to the new caps if the game is abandoned? Are they rescinded in the records?” asks Luke Williams. Presumably if the game is struck from the records, those debut international appearances to all intents and purposes didn’t happen, and the caps will be ripped from their heads. I don’t know this for actual fact, and it seems a little mean, but I’m not sure there’s an alternative. If anyone knows better, I’d be delighted to be put right.

12.15pm BST

They need to get through 20 overs each for this to go down in the records as a proper, echte, honest-to-goodness cricket match. There’s a lot of leeway there – we won’t start to lose overs for another hour – but they could have done with the water waiting for another couple of overs, giving the option of England’s innings starting at the resumption, if there is one.

12.11pm BST

Head here to check out today’s rain radar (thanks to Dave Dineen for the link). It does not look promising.

12.05pm BST

The rain doesn’t seem very heavy, but it does seem persistent, and so the umpires eventually bring them off. The question is, how long for?

And off they go for the rain, with Ireland 53-4 off 18 overs. The fear is that could be it for the day…

12.04pm BST

18th over: Ireland 56-4 (Joyce 23, Wilson 3)

It’s still raining, and they’re still playing. England don’t want to go anywhere, with Ireland continuing to score at a pretty dismal pace. Finn bowls another maiden – the three overs he’s bowled so far have between them cost one run.

@Simon_Burnton I think the barstool in Gibneys will be calling my name unless Ireland get the finger out & put some runs on the board!

12.00pm BST

17th over: Ireland 56-4 (Joyce 23, Wilson 3)

Balbirnie pushes the ball down the ground, just wide of a desperately diving mid off and away for a four. The next ball is near-identical, just a fraction wider, and Balbirnie attempts another drive and gets it wrong. Wilson sends the final delivery through the covers – as the camera pans across you expect it to find the ball trundling over the rope, but in fact it holds up in the soft, wet grass and they run three.

11.57am BST

Now that’s how to take a slip catch! Balbirnie sends the ball flying high to the right of Roy at second slip, he flings out both hands and the ball disappears into them. Very fine catch indeed, that.

11.54am BST

16th over: Ireland 48-3 (Joyce 22, Balbirnie 1)

Finn squares Balbirnie up with a stonker that straightens and flashes just past the batsman’s proferred blade. England are bowling well here, so well in fact that the last five overs have cost just five runs.

11.51am BST

15th over: Ireland 47-3 (Joyce 21, Balbirnie 1)

Willey yields a few singles, as spots start to appear on camera lenses.

Congrats all the guys making their England debuts today. Special day and good work Knighty! (Pic via @PCA) pic.twitter.com/Ccn0PZfuyK

11.47am BST

14th over: Ireland 44-3 (Joyce 19, Balbirnie 0)

Steve Finn replaces Bresnan from the Castle end, as umbrellass start to go up around the ground. Only a few umbrellas, mind, with most people apparently not having noticed yet that it’s raining. That’s how engrossing this game is, people. It’s a maiden, which ends with groundsmen poised to run on with some covers, but umpires unsure whether they it’s worth the hassle.

11.43am BST

13th over: Ireland 44-3 (Joyce 19, Balbirnie 0)

That there is a maiden over from Willey, bowling full and straight. Joyce tries a couple of shots, but doesn’t quite time them, and/or picks out fielders.

11.39am BST

12th over: Ireland 44-3 (Joyce 19, Balbirnie 0)

There aren’t just thick jumpers in the crowd, there are scarves and bobbly hats and thick fur-lined hoods pulled tight round heads despite an absence of the predicted rain. Balbirnie’s first ball smacks him on the pad, and Bresnan loudly appeals, but it was going down leg side, and probably high.

11.37am BST

Bresnan tempts O’Brien into a drive, and he top-edges the ball straight to Vince (which is just as well – he barely moves his hands before it arrives, and they wouldn’t have got anywhere near it had it not got so near to them).

11.34am BST

11th over: Ireland 43-2 (Joyce 18, N O’Brien 10)

David Willey, another of the day’s five debutants, gets a bowl, and Joyce pulls a short ball that arrives at neck height for four.

11.30am BST

10th over: Ireland 37-2 (Joyce 13, O’Brien 9)

A repeat of the Sterling run-out with a different outcome, the ball again dropping near the stumps at his end, and being thrown at the stumps at the other by Bairstow. Joyce this time would have been out had the ball gone six inches t’other way. Instead it misses, and he gets a bonus run.

11.26am BST

9th over: Ireland 33-2 (Joyce 9, O’Brien 9)

O’Brien pulls the ball off his hip and away to the square leg boundary for four. The stadium DJ promptly plays The Only Way is Up by Yazz, which I think is a little harsh. It was a lovely shot, and brought four runs. How much better do you expect it to get, exactly? A couple of balls later he edges to Hales at gully, the ball flying just wide of his left shoulder – he gets both hands to it, but can’t hold it. A couple of singles later, another short ball is pulled away for four.

11.22am BST

8th over: Ireland 23-2 (Joyce 8, O’Brien 0)

Bresnan bowls, Joyce defends, the ball flies past the edge, produces a clear edgy noise, and flies through to Bairstow. There’s an enormous appeal, but the umpire is unmoved, to the general puzzlement of everybody – until slow-motion replays show the ball flicked the edge of the pad, and missed the bat by the slimmest of margins. Mark Hawthorne either took a very lucky guess there, or he’s got magic slow-mo eyes.

11.20am BST

7th over: Ireland 23-1 (Joyce 8, O’Brien 0)

Wood seems to be getting faster but finding less swing. The wicket comes from the final delivery of the over, and just survives a check that it wasn’t a no ball.

11.17am BST

Porterfield tries to slap the ball through the covers but inside-edges into his stumps instead!

11.13am BST

6th over: Ireland 22-1 (Porterfield 7, Joyce 7)

An edge! Bresnan bowls across the left-handed Joyce, the ball flicks the edge and it lands a good three feet short of Bairstow. Joyce promptly thwacks one to the deep cover boundary.

@Simon_Burnton You think you’re scraping the bottom of the barrel. This one doesn’t even actually end in -hide. https://t.co/FQgmFOPMx8

11.09am BST

5th over: Ireland 17-1 (Porterfield 7, Joyce 2)

After a wide in each of his first two overs (and before he delivers another in this one too), Wood bowls an emphatic no ball in his third, giving Porterfield a free hit, which he thumps along the ground, just past the stumps at the other end, through the umpire’s legs and away for four. So firmly is the ball struck it obviously is smashed out of shape, and the umpires immediately decide to switch it for another one.

11.03am BST

4th over: Ireland 7-1 (Porterfield 2, Joyce 0)

So with the ball lolloping about at the striker’s end, Bairstow is first on the scene, strips off a glove, gathers and throws down the stumps at the other end, with the batsman nowhere near making his ground. Fine bit of fielding. A leg bye is Ireland’s only reward from Bresnan’s over.

11.00am BST

Sterling drops the ball a yard or two from that bat and sets off on a run. “Good running!” enthuses the Sky commentator. Erm …

10.58am BST

3rd over: Ireland 6-0 (Porterfield 2, Stirling 2)

Another wide from Wood, and that’s as much as the over yields. And if we’re going to go down the hit singles that end in -hide road, I’d like jump straight to scraping the bottom of the barrel, with this 1988 No47 smash:

10.55am BST

2nd over: Ireland 5-0 (Porterfield 2, Stirling 2)

Tim Bresnan, absent from England’s one-day team for one year, two months and three days, is back, back, back. Ireland struggle to come to terms with his infamously heavy balls, but eventually get a single off the last.

@Simon_Burnton I see your Rawhide and raise you https://t.co/ukQbpv3vIY Martha and the Vandellas. This is England’s state right now.

10.51am BST

1st over: Ireland 4-0 (Porterfield 1, Stirling 2)

The first ball of the day goes just down the leg side, and Ireland are thus off the mark. Both batsmen also start scoring, Porterfield with a single to midwicket, Stirling with a nice flick off his toes for a couple. The pitch is allegedly “tacky”, and there seems to be some swing about.

10.46am BST

Mark Wood, one of the debutants, is going to bowl the first over.

10.45am BST

And now they’re preparing for actual action, under grey skies and in front of a decent if scattered crowd.

10.43am BST

The teams are out and engaging in a little pre-match pageantry.

10.37am BST

Andrew Strauss is missing from Sky’s comentary box, and they announce that it “is highly likely that he will be the new cricket director”.

10.31am BST

Morning, then, to John McEnerney, who appears to be on the ground in Malahide. Good to have a local correspondent on the OBO, John, keep ‘em coming.

@Simon_Burnton a lovely May morning on the Northside of Dublin, some nice pubs in Malahide in case it rains(odds on)going for a home win COI

10.25am BST

So the new headwear goes to Zafar Ansari, Jason Roy, James Vince, David Willey and Mark Wood.

10.23am BST

The teams are in, and look like this:

The Ireland team for today: Porterfield (c); Balbirnie; Cusack; Dockrell; Joyce; Mooney; K O’Brien; N O’Brien; Stirling; Wilson (wk); Young

The England team for today: Taylor (c); Ansari; Bairstow (wk); Bresnan; Finn; Hales; Rashid; Roy; Vince; Willey; Wood

10.18am BST

That is very much the sum total of my current knowledge, with broadcasters yet to turn their attention to Malahide.

10.05am BST

I find it very hard to think about Malahide without this coming to mind (and given that I’m perfectly happy for this to come to mind, I tend not to try very hard):

9.58am BST

There’s also a picture on social media of five new caps on a table, waiting for pre-match presentation. We await news of whose heads they will be placed upon.

9.54am BST

Good news! It looks cloudy over in Malahide, but not currently rainswept.

The guys are warming up – lots of activity on the ground here #IrevEng https://t.co/2IEEENnMsm

9.53am BST

Hello world!

It’s a new dawn. It’s a new day. Forget the infernal election, on the cricket field we have temporarily at least swept away the stale old mob of underperforming, entitled has-beens, and can now prepare to usher in a new era for the nation. Of course, the incumbents will resist, and the old guy’s still in charge for now, but his premiership is looking increasingly wobble-footed.

9.45am BST

Simon will be here shortly. In the meantime, read Ali Martin’s preview piece.

As Peter Moores was taking practice for possibly the final time as the England head coach, the stand-in one-day captain James Taylor was in front of the microphones insisting Friday’s international against Ireland in Dublin was important for all involved, not just one man.

With Andrew Strauss having agreed to become England’s director of cricket, the attention has switched to Moores and whether his new superior sees him as the man to take the national side forward, having himself been set the dual target of winning the Ashes and the World Cup in 2019.

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England’s James Taylor sees their Ireland challenge as a chance to shine

Captaining the side in only his 18th ODI appearance, Taylor hopes to see rich county form from a side that could feature up to seven debutants
James Taylor’s straight bat can’t smother speculation over Peter Moores’ future

Ireland tend to keep quiet on the subject of a so-called under-strength England team arriving on their shores, knowing that until they register their first win in the biennial fixture, they have little basis from which to grumble about the make-up of their opposition.

Here in the picturesque coastal town of Malahide, a short drive north of Dublin, Friday’s one-off one-day international between the two sides represents a fifth opportunity for William Porterfield’s associate side to get one over their rivals from across the Irish Sea. And of course, what constitutes a first-choice England side these days is very much up for debate following a World Cup in which the seemingly open goal of reaching knockout stages was missed with some breathtakingly fearful cricket and four defeats against their fellow full-member nations.

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Sam Billings looks to De Villiers’ method as he prepares for England debut

England’s latest new boy Sam Billings has tried to model his game on the South African’s explosive style and is preparing for Friday’s one-day clash with Ireland
James Taylor’s straight bat can’t smother Peter Moores speculation

Whenever South African captain AB de Villiers pulls off one of his eye-catching one-day innings, such as the world record 31-ball century against West Indies in January or that unbeaten 162 against the same opposition at the World Cup a month later, an internet meme does the rounds, outlining what an extraordinary sportsman he was during his formative years.

His captaincy of the South Africa junior rugby team, his junior tennis caps, his national badminton title, his hockey and footballing exploits, not to mention his junior national record over 100 metres and a scratch handicap at golf, are all listed, to leave little doubt as to the 31-year-old’s abilities. Here at the Malahide club, preparing to make his one-day debut against Ireland on Friday, could be England’s equivalent in 23-year-old Sam Billings, the explosive Kent wicketkeeper-batsman who has similarly chosen a career in cricket despite his own upbringing of varied sporting pursuits.

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