Ireland news December 18, 2011

Dockrell relishing England contest


George Dockrell, the Ireland and Somerset left-arm spinner, wants to put behind him a frustrating 2011 and begin the new year in style when he faces England in Dubai next month.

Dockrell, 19, has been named in the ICC Associates and Affiliates team that will play England in their first warm-up match before the Test series against Pakistan. He is already a highly regarded bowler and has just completed his first year on the Somerset books, but a dislocated shoulder at the World Cup meant he wasn't able to quite make the strides he wanted in the county set up. He made just one County Championship appearance although did play in the Friends Life t20 semi-final against Hampshire and at the Champions League in India.

"It was a tough year after the World Cup," he told ESPNcricinfo. "I was hoping to take my form into the English season but the injury set me back a bit which was annoying. These things happen and I'm now just looking forward to next year and playing a lot of cricket. If I have a good winter with Ireland then that will set me up well for the next English summer."

The three-day match against England will also allow Dockrell an extended bowl against a Test-match batting order rather than the four-over and 10-over stints he has been restricted to in his previous Twenty20 and ODI outings.

"I've played them before in the World T20, the World Cup and again in Ireland but this will be something different in the longer form and it will be more of a test bowling more overs," he said. "The longer form of the game is the one side I want to develop most at the moment so it will be great to bowl against the No. 1 Test team and hopefully I'll get plenty of overs under my belt."

Dockrell will line up alongside Ireland team-mates Will Porterfield, who will captain the ICC team, and Boyd Rankin with the latter also part of the England Lions set up. Dockrell has already been tipped as another Ireland cricketer who could press for Test honours with England in the future but is adamant none of those thoughts are crossing his mind yet.

"I've only been playing for two seasons and I'm still trying to break into the county scene so that is where my mind is focused at the moment," he said. "I need to make huge developments in my game before I look too far into the future."

Although the match in January is a nice bonus for Dockrell it is not the most important cricket he has coming up in the early part of next year. In March, Dubai will also host the World Twenty20 qualifiers involving 16 teams of which only two will qualify for the full tournament in Sri Lanka next September. Having elevated themselves to the leading Associate nation, Dockrell is aware that it is crucial that Ireland continue to reach these global events.

"Only two teams qualify and it's a huge thing for Ireland," he said. "It's quite a long tournament and our focus is getting to that World Cup because it's massive for the team to ensure we stay on the world stage."

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dravid_Pujara_Gravitas on December 21, 2011, 4:05 GMT

    @AllanHarrison, can't agree more. Much respects to you. I'm really upset with this poaching of players. I'm shocked, really shocked, to see fans supporting such spiritless/characterless acts by quoting 'within the rules' defence which I thought is even more spiritless/characterless. Not at all good for expanding the game globally.

  • dummy4fb on December 21, 2011, 0:50 GMT

    George is a talent and deserves test status - to Randy I would say he did well enough in the world cup that major teams (including England - wait how did that finish?, and India) were avoiding going after him and he was only 19 then ... he may not be a Warne or a Swann now but he might be yet. If he goes, he does so with my blessing - my ire is kept for the ICC - how many more do we have to lose to England election before you recognise that we know how to develop world class players and deserve a path to test status. Not test status today - but a clear 5/10 year path. Shame on you.

  • AlanHarrison on December 20, 2011, 13:08 GMT

    @ Meety: I actually agree in not liking the fact that Irish players may or do end up getting sucked into the English system in this way, weakening Irish cricket. Even apart from what one's perspective as a fan of a particular team might be, I think it is bad for the game, which needs to expand globally. It's inconsistent for England fans (or whoever) to bask in the glory of being number 1 in the world in a system which is loaded against Associate nations, and dismiss their potential or challenge. What is so impressive about being no.1 in the world in a form of the game if only 4 or 5 countries in the world are allowed or able effectually to compete! (I'm reminded of Obama's reported comments to Cameron when England got to no.1 in the world, on the lines of "so what, hardly anyone else plays".) On another point, it's only 12 years ago England were ranked bottom of the pile in test cricket: should they then be prevented from playing tests as some suggest Bangladesh should be now?

  • jmcilhinney on December 20, 2011, 10:52 GMT

    @RandyOz, while those players are smart, you apparently are not. You don't think that maybe the fact that Ireland is about an hour on a boat from England and 24 hours on a plane from Australia was a factor in their decision? Given Australia's spinner-go-round lately, I think any spinner would fancy their chances of getting into the Australia side rather more than displacing Swann in the England team. Your bold declarations don't change his world ranking.

  • Meety on December 20, 2011, 3:19 GMT

    @AlanHarrison - re: Chance to play Tests. I'd never knock a bloke from wanting to do that, but what gets up my nose is that Ireland's chances of gaining Test status will come on the back of ODI success & strong performance in the Intercontinental cup, but they have to do this with a 2nd string line up. If Dockrell goes & plays Tests for England, it will be to his countrymen's expense. Maybe playing a Test shouldn't discount a bloke (Dockrell), from being able to play ODIs for his country, or for that matter compete in the Intercontinental Cup? Or, (for associates) a player can instantly return to play for his nation of birth & not have to serve a residency period? Does not apply to poaching CURRENT Test nations talent!!!!!

  • bumsonseats on December 19, 2011, 16:04 GMT

    ammar you must remember england played the aussies our winter and the seamers took all the wickets so swann did not have to do much wicket taking. as it was much the same v india when they cannot score more than 300 on english wickets once during a series the poor guy could not get much chance against them either. some guy wrote on here classing o'keefe and lyon as spinners i thought when u had spinner after your name u spun the bowl. i thought that was a joke. it was a joke was it not ? dpk

  • Cricketfan333 on December 19, 2011, 14:59 GMT

    ICC eligibility rules should be modified such that a player who represented a country or at least associate nations can't play for another country to prevent poaching of Irish and Scottish players by England even if they are willing to play for England for development of cricket.

  • AlanHarrison on December 19, 2011, 13:34 GMT

    @ Munkeymomo and Darren Cook : the counties pick Irish players like Stirling, Dockrell, etc, because they think they are good enough, better than any English alternatives, not out of altruism for Irish cricket, so I don't see what your point is

  • AlanHarrison on December 19, 2011, 12:59 GMT

    @ thebigone: well it's true the likes of Dockrell, Joyce and Morgan want or wanted to play for England, but that's only because within the existing dispensation that is the only chance they have of playing test cricket. If Ireland were a test-playing nation (putting aside for the moment the debate about whether or not that should be the case), then I strongly suspect Dockrell would not have ambitions about playing for England. One could cite many other cases where other players from other countries have ended up wanting to play for England for much the same reason (e.g., Gavin Hamilton, Allan Lamb, Graeme Hick, Basil D'Oliveira ...).

  • RandyOZ on December 19, 2011, 12:39 GMT

    Players like George are smart though, they go to the country with the weak system because they know it's easier to get into the side. With world class bowlers like O'Keefe and Lyon he knows he'd have no chance in Oz.

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