|Ireland v Australia One Day International 2012|
Dockrell relishing Australian challenge
Jon Coates (Irish Daily Mail)
THE last time the mighty Australians visited this island, George Dockrell was pitting his wits against a very different challenge from the one he could have been engaged in at Clontarf.
The left-arm spinner, now 19, then 17, was sitting his biology Leaving Cert at Dublin's Gonzaga College while his new team-mates in the Ireland senior side were attempting to humiliate Ricky Ponting on the Northside.
And they nearly did so. After getting an update on the score from the invigilator as he left the exam room, Dockrell dashed home to watch William Porterfield and Paul Stirling race to an opening partnership of 80 that made the unthinkable a distinct possibility.
Hindsight is a wobbly crutch but had Dockrell been playing, it is conceivable that Australia would have scored a good deal less than their 231 for nine, which proved to be 37 runs too many for the hosts.
He was a serious player even then, and today he is among the very best young spin bowlers in world cricket, an accolade supported by his match-winning performances for Somerset in all three forms of the game this season.
'It was a bit frustrating to miss the game the last time Australia were here, but I couldn't really avoid it,' he told Sportsmail ahead of today's RSA Challenge at Stormont.
'It's great to be able play in this one and have a second crack at the Aussies. They're not quite where they were a few years gone by but they're still a very strong team, full of World Cup players, and I rate them very highly.
'But on our day we can beat any team in the world. We will be respecting them but we won't fear them.
'Stormont can be a bit hit and miss for spin, but sometimes it does turn and I'll just keep it tight and miserly and try to strangle the batsmen.'
The teenager already has 69 international caps and, even more impressively, 110 wickets – and his record in today's format survives any level of scrutiny.
Dockrell has played 28 one-day internationals and taken 35 wickets at an average of 26.6, with an economy rate of 4.32.
They are the kind of numbers that will have encouraged Michael Clarke, presuming he has done his homework, to make specific plans for how to play the tyro, so much so that they might have overlooked his foil, Paul Stirling.
Dockrell has made an earlier impact on the county scene than Ed Joyce or Eoin Morgan did, and he couldn't be happier in Taunton.
'I live in a flat on the ground with a couple of young guys and I'm really enjoying just being immersed in cricket,' he said.
'I'm always there, training or playing, and it feels like the right place to be. I'd like to be home more often to see friends and family but this is where I'm making my living, playing cricket, and I'm developing my game all the time.'