WITH World Cup places up for grabs, Phil Simmons told his players he wanted them to stand up and be counted this week in Malahide.
And his call was heeded perfectly by one young bowler who has been a long time waiting for his chance. By taking 5-46 on ODI debut on Monday, Craig Young blasted his way into centre stage and has put his hand up not just for a place in the squad but for the starting XI too.
With the double whammy of Boyd Rankin’s switch to England and Trent Johnston’s retirement, Simmons has been searching for a spearhead for his seam attack.
Tim Murtagh is a key player, but his pace makes him unsuitable for the new ball, and while Graeme McCarter had a decent T20 season with struggling Gloucester, he hasn’t been selected once for the county’s 50-over games.
The same lack of raw pace applies to John Mooney and Kevin O’Brien, while Alex Cusack looks increasingly unlikely to be fit.
And while Max Sorensen has the pace, he bowls a predictable line and has not had the happiest of 2014 seasons.
So the stage is set for Young to step up. The 24 year old spent three seasons at Sussex where he was plagued with injury. He never got an extended run in the 2nd XI and although he was respected and popular at the county he decided to return home to rebuild his career.
He made his debut a year ago and has progressed well since. He now has six caps, and an impressive 18 wickets to his name after the eighth-best ODI debut of all time for any country. He’s certainly coming into form at the right time.
“The individual is never more important than team,” he said on Monday, “but everyone is trying the best they can with a huge carrot at the end of this.
“I chose to come home from Sussex because there was an Ireland ‘A contract’ on offer so it was a no-brainer.
“But I’ve reaped the benefits of the full time training, the strength and conditioning work with Brendan Connor. I’m as strong and my bowling’s as good as it’s ever been.
“Working with Simmo, and on my batting, means I’m leaving no stone unturned.”
He spent Christmas in Australia working at the Craig McDermott fast bowling Academy, which was followed by that Cricket Ireland central contract and a place in the T20 World Cup squad for Bangladesh.
His return helped spur North-West to their first modern-era interpro title, the T20, and has picked up 16 wickets for the Warriors, as well as six wickets in two games against Sri Lanka A in his only Ireland appearances of the summer.
Before this week it was reckoned the battle for the last three places in the tour squad would come down to two from John Anderson, Andrew Balbirnie, Stuart Poynter and Andrew White, and one from McCarter and Young. The Gloucester man sat out the first ODI, but will need a stunning display to take the plane ticket out of Craig Young’s hands.
WHILE William Porterfield will be aiming the get his hands on it on March 29th next year, plenty of other Irish people will be able to see the Cricket World Cup up close today. The 11kg silver trophy was taken on a tour of the sights of Dublin yesterday, and will be on display at the ODI in Malahide today where supporters can have their photo taken with it.
Selfie of the week: Malahide CC have been languishing in Division 2 for four seasons, but stormed back up in style. With talk of Max Sorensen on board for 2015 they could be dark horses.
Friday: Third ODI: Ireland v Scotland, Malahide, 10.15am
Sunday: Newstalk IP50: Northern Knights v Leinster Lightning, Waringstown
Saturday (20th): Newstalk IP50: Leinster Lightning v Northern Knights, Rathmines