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May 6, 2009
Ireland have virtually retained the same squad that won the recent World Cup Qualifiers tournament in South Africa, with the only changes being the inclusion of Jeremy Bray and Paul Stirling in place of Andrew Poynter and Eoin Morgan.
Ireland coach Phil Simmons has again opted for experience, a policy which served him well in their triumph last month, with one notable exception, 18-year-old Paul Stirling. "Paul has been in such good form in the Friends Provident Trophy, with two exceptional knocks," Simmons said. "It's not just been the fact that he's scored runs, but the manner in which he has played. He's been confident, powerful and dominant. It's hard to believe that innings of such maturity come from one so young. He looks the part and has a great attitude to the game which will stand him in good stead in years to come."
For Stirling, who's still a student at the Belfast High School, the call-up was a dream come true. "It's unbelievable really. This is my last official day of school, as I start sitting my 'A' levels next week," Stirling said. "They don't finish until June 4, so I'm free for the tournament, but may miss the warm up games. I'm looking forward to playing against some of the world's greatest players, and am relishing taking on the defending world champions, India. The Bangladesh game is one which we'll be targeting for a win. We've beaten them before, and in English conditions, there's no reason why we can't do it again."
Simmons also revealed that Andre Botha will undergo a fitness test as he continues to recover from a damaged ankle. "Andre will undergo rigorous testing on his ankle in two to three weeks time, and we'll make a final decision then," Simmons said. "He definitely won't bowl in the tournament, but I'd be very confident he can play a major role with the bat. We have struggled a bit with the ball in the current Friends Provident campaign, but we'll have a lot of experience coming back in Trent Johnston and Alex Cusack, as well as big Boyd [Rankin]."
Ireland have been drawn in Group A and will face Bangladesh on June 8, and India on June 10, with both fixtures taking place at Trent Bridge, Nottingham.
Squad: William Porterfield (capt), Andre Botha, Jeremy Bray, Peter Connell, Alex Cusack, Trent Johnston, Kyle McCallan, John Mooney, Kevin O'Brien, Niall O'Brien (wk), Boyd Rankin, Paul Stirling, Regan West, Andrew White, Gary Wilson
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