Porterfield back to lead Ireland in Zimbabwe
William Porterfield, Niall O'Brien and Gary Wilson have returned to Ireland's squad for the upcoming tour of Zimbabwe after missing the recent trip to Canada.
The 14-man squad will head out to for an Intercontinental Cup tie against a Zimbabwe XI starting September 20, which is followed by three one-day internationals against the full Zimbabwe team.
Niall O'Brien returns after surgery on his finger while captain Porterfield and Wilson are both released from county duty to play in the full tour.
The trio's inclusion is particularly important with senior paceman Boyd Rankin out with a recurrence of his foot injury and Alex Cusack also recuperating following surgery on his leg muscles. Both hope to be back by the end of the year for Ireland's tour to the subcontinent.
Ireland are currently languishing in the middle of the Intercontinental Cup table - 25 points adrift of leaders Afghanistan - but Phil Simmons, the Ireland coach, thinks his side still has a chance of challenging for the title.
"It's an important trip for a variety of reasons," he said. "We're currently ranked 10th in the world above Zimbabwe, and we want to not only keep our position but close in on, and possibly overhaul Bangladesh. We haven't given up hope of still qualifying for the final of the Intercontinental Cup. A full points win would keep us in with a chance, so we'll be striving all out to achieve that.
"The World Cup is now only five months away, and for the fringe players these fixtures represent a mammoth opportunity to convince me and the selectors that they should be on the plane to Bangladesh and India. I hope that they take their chance and make a name for themselves .I have most of the squad in my mind, but there's still a few places up for grabs."
There was good news elsewhere for Ireland after Trent Johnston climbed up to 20th place in the ICC's ODI bowling rankings - the highest of any Associate bowler - while Paul Stirling is in 37th place in the batting after his epic 177 in Ireland's ODI victory over Canada earlier this month.
Ireland squad: William Porterfield (captain), Andre Botha, George Dockrell, Allan Eastwood (Pembroke), Trent Johnston, Nigel Jones, John Mooney, Kevin O'Brien, Niall O'Brien (wkt), Andrew Poynter, Paul Stirling, Albert Van De Merwe, Andrew White, Gary Wilson (wkt).