Ireland have named a full strength squad for their upcoming ICC InterContinental Cup clash with Papua New Guinea next month.

The Irish currently top the table with maximum points from convincing wins in the opening two rounds against the UAE and Namibia, putting themselves in a strong position in their quest for Test status.

“It’s a very strong looking squad with a nice blend of experience and a sprinkling of youth,” said Cricket Ireland Head Coach John Bracewell.

“The return of Boyd Rankin gives William (Porterfield) plenty of options on the bowling front. We’ve been trying hard to get Boyd back into the fold and it’s given everyone an extra boost to have that wrapped up before Christmas.

“The batting has been solid in the matches we’ve played so far, with of course Ed Joyce getting those back-to-back double hundreds. There have been excellent partnerships which have let us build big totals and control games from the start.

“We’re aware of just how quickly PNG have progressed in recent years, indeed beating The Netherlands in this competition. We’ll be getting to Australia a week ahead of the game and have lined up a three-day game to help us prepare.”

Following the conclusion of the InterContinental Cup game, Ireland will stay in Townsville playing PNG three times to help prepare for the upcoming ICC World Twenty20 in India. They will then travel to the UAE where they will play an additional three games en route home, two of which will be T20 Internationals, still to be announced by the hosts.

“We’ve a total of six T20’s lined up which will help us get into the right frame of mind ahead of India,” said Bracewell, who is currently in Australia on the coaching staff of Brisbane Heat. “Andrew Poynter and Max Sorensen join the squad for those games - both have proved very valuable in the past in the shortest format.”

Bracewell also revealed that Tim Murtagh had made himself available for T20 internationals, reversing his decision to retire from the format earlier in the year.

“It’s great news that Tim has had a change of heart. His experience is invaluable and gives extra strength and depth to our attack. The games come at a perfect time for him ahead of the English domestic season, so the demands and stresses on his body won’t be so great.”

Ireland Squad for Games v Papua New Guinea and Tour of UAE

William Porterfield (captain) (Warwickshire), Andrew Balbirnie (Middlesex), George Dockrell (Leinster), Ed Joyce* (Sussex), Tim Murtagh (Middlesex), Andrew McBrine (Donemana), Kevin O’Brien (Railway Union), Niall O’Brien (Leicestershire), Andrew Poynter+ (Clontarf), Stuart Poynter (Durham), Boyd Rankin (Warwickshire), Max Sorensen+ (CIYMS), Paul Stirling (MIddlesex), Stuart Thompson (Eglinton), Gary Wilson (Surrey), Craig Young (Bready).

*ICup only
+T20’s only

Tour Fixtures

January 24-26 3-day practice game v (TBC) (Brisbane)
January 31-Feb 3 ICup v Papua New Guinea (Townsville)
Feb 6 T20 v PNG (Townsville)
Feb 7 T20 v PNG (Townsville)
Feb 9 T20 v PNG (Townsville)
Feb 13 T20 v (TBC) (Abu Dhabi)
Feb 15 T20I v (TBC) (Abu Dhabi)
Feb 16 T20I v (TBC) (Abu Dhabi)