Mulder and Thompson impress Bracewell
Ian Callender (Belfast Telegraph)
If the Ireland squad to face South Africa and Australia this month had been picked last night, coach John Bracewell would have insisted on Jacob Mulder and Greg Thompson making the trip.
The North Down leg spinner, on his debut, and the Waringstown batsman, on his return to the Ireland team after an absence of eight years, made an instant impression against Hong Kong at Bready on Monday in what proved to be the last international of the summer.
The scheduled second Twenty20 game between the teams yesterday was called off an hour before the start because there was no chance of the outfield drying out following the overnight rain, which also put paid to Ireland Women's second T20 against Bangladesh.
But Bracewell saw enough to know he wanted both Mulder and Thompson involved in the winter ahead, which culminates with a nine-game series against Afghanistan, across all three formats, in India in March.
"The squad for South Africa was selected three weeks ago on what we then knew and, if picking today, I would strongly argue for two other options," said Bracewell.
"It's too early for Josh (Little, the 16-year-old left-arm quick, who also impressed on his debut) but Jacob is in serious consideration for India as we are playing at the same ground for a month and will need an extra spinner.
"Greg Thompson has also put himself into consideration simply on the basis he plays spin well. We have struggled against spin and Afghanistan play three spinners."
And Bracewell claimed that the pair have given the county professionals in the Ireland squad "a wake-up".
He added: "Games like this, which don't have international ranking points but give you the chance to develop players, keep the county players honest.
"Thompson did what he has been doing all season and gives us something we have lacked in T20 cricket for the last 18 months, an ability in the lower middle order to strike 360 by using sweeps both sides of the ground, square drives and being able to hit over the top when necessary.
"I didn't know him as a youngster (when he had played 14 internationals by the age of 20) but in the last year and a half I have been impressed at what I have seen at domestic level and now he has carried that into the international arena.
"As for Jacob, I'm delighted to have a leg spinner who can attack both edges of the bat. I have seen that all summer and for him to make his debut, bowl through the middle overs, which was the only part of the game we controlled, he and Andy McBrine formed a really positive partnership."
But reflecting on a summer which produced only three wins from nine games, Bracewell was disappointed by the pitches which he felt favoured the opposition rather than the home side.
"It is a frustration to me that the last quick wicket we played on was against Australia! The last two wickets we played on at Stormont were turning pitches where the opposition strengths lie," he said.
"In Boyd Rankin, Craig Young, Peter Chase and Barry McCarthy we have an international bowling attack as sharp as most sides, plus Tim Murtagh who comes in and nibbles it, so I don't think we are doing justice to our strengths."