World Cup 2015 February 12, 2015

Ireland 'irritation' at Morgan allegiance

ESPNcricinfo staff

For Queen and country: Dubliner Eoin Morgan leads England into the World Cup, to Ireland's frustration © Getty Images

The Ireland management has spoken out at the frustration of losing players to England. Alan Lewis, Ireland chief selector and former captain, said it was "irritating" that Eoin Morgan will captain England at the World Cup.

Previously tight-lipped on the topic, Lewis's comments are a rare public display of annoyance from Cricket Ireland at players crossing the Irish sea.

Speaking to the Slog Sweep podcast Lewis, who also captained Ireland at the 1994 ICC Trophy, said it was "a wee bit irritating to think what we could be" when discussing the moves of Morgan and Boyd Rankin to play for England. Ed Joyce also featured for England at the 2007 World Cup but subsequently switched allegiance back and was part of the side that beat England famously four years ago.

"I look at the England set up and over the last 10 years, three people from this little island where cricket is the fourth or fifth sport are playing for a country whose national sport is cricket," Lewis said.

"It is a wee bit irritating to think where we could be if Eoin and Boyd were available; obviously we've got Ed back now.

"I wouldn't want to deprive Eoin Morgan the opportunity with the ability he has, I'd want to play at the top level, and in honesty every Irish supporter would wish him well, it's a great story, but it's a great frustration. To get our players back, that's part of the next step."

Rankin, the fast bowler from Londonderry, made his England debut against Ireland of all teams in September 2013 but has since failed to hold down a place in the one-day side. His Test debut in Sydney in January 2014 was a disaster.

Lewis admitted that avenues were explored to get Rankin back for Ireland. "We looked at it but certain doors got closed. We watched Boyd's form but with possibly Ireland sniffing around again, the England Lions were going to come watching and that's exactly what happened.

"One thing we've got to look for is an element of loyalty and we've got to gamble a little bit and that can backfire because you want every player to do well but you want Ireland to do well."

Rather ironically, Lewis also discussed the possibility of selecting Australian-born, New South Wales-based batsman Nick Larkin in their World Cup squad, who played twice for Ireland last summer. "With his credentials batting in Australian conditions and having an Irish passport, obviously he was on our radar," Lewis said.

Definitely selected was another foreign-developed player. Tim Murtagh - born in Lambeth and a graduate of the Surrey academy - was seen as a crucial part of Ireland's bowling attack but he has been ruled out of the tournament with a fractured foot.

"Tim Murtagh has an ability to swing the ball, I would have looked at him like a Damien Fleming, bowling at about 120kphs. Unfortunately he's now out but Max Sorensen is back and reports are he's performing well."

Lewis is hoping that things fall into place for Ireland, whose preparation has been far from ideal with Murtagh's injury and a hammering by Scotland but they bounced back to beat Bangladesh in their final warm-up.

"Every game is just a massive pressure game - it's a measure of where we are, and articulating where we want to go to," Lewis said. "I just hope we can fulfill our promise and continue on our growth plans."

Ireland's chief executive Warren Deutrom said anything less than a quarter-final spot would represent a failure for Ireland. They open their World Cup campaign against West Indies on Sunday.