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Ireland are coming into this year’s ICC Twenty20 World Cup with much more of a standing in the international game, and they will be looking to start their campaign in the right fashion against Zimbabwe.
The Irish are the top-ranked nation in the qualifying section of the World T20, sitting above their Full Member counterparts of Zimbabwe and Bangladesh.
It certainly will not have gone unnoticed that the team above them in eighth position in the current rankings is England.
Once a cricketing minnow, if Ireland do not push past the Group stage, it could be seen as a significant set-back in their progress towards becoming a full-fledged cricket nation.
There is a more youthful look about Ireland’s squad compared to the previous global event, the 2012 World T20 in Sri Lanka. Gone are Boyd Rankin (now with England) and Trent Johnston (retired) so the bowling, in particular, includes some inexperienced names. Seam bowlers Stuart Thompson and Craig Young, along with spinners Andy McBrine and James Shannon are those tasked with filling the large shoes.
It means the onus will be on Ireland’s batting. That is where the bulk of the professional experience sits, from the captain Porterfield and his opening partner Paul Stirling, to Ed Joyce, the O’Brien brothers and Gary Wilson.
WTS Porterfield*, AR Cusack, GH Dockrell, EC Joyce, AR McBrine, TJ Murtagh, KJ O’Brien, NJ O’Brien, AD Poynter, JNK Shannon, MC Sorensen, PR Stirling, SR Thompson, GC Wilson†, CA Young
BRM Taylor*†, TL Chatara, E Chigumbura, T Kamungozi, T Maruma, H Masakadza, SW Masakadza, N Mushangwe, T Panyangara, V Sibanda, Sikandar Raza, P Utseya, BV Vitori, MN Waller, SC Williams