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

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