A packed house will bid farewell to cricket at Ormeau, in Northern Ireland, today as the touring Australian team make their sole venture outside of English-Welsh territory to take on Ireland in the Northern Bank Challenge match.
A crowd of about 4000 people is expected, with tickets having already sold out. The game is the last major representative fixture to be played at the Belfast ground, which is to be turned into a housing development. The home of the North of Ireland Cricket Club, Ormeau has been used for cricket since 1859, and saw its first visit by an Australian team when Bradman's 1938 tourists played the Gentlemen of Ireland. Australian teams have also played at Ormeau in 1961 and 1968.
Ricky Ponting will captain the Australians in the absence of Adam Gilchrist, who is resting from this game, and Steve Waugh (who actually played for Ireland as a guest against Australia 'A' in 1998), who is recovering from a leg injury. Ponting, who scored 147 not out in Australia's victory over Sussex on Friday, was man of the match in Australia's last meeting with Ireland on their 1997 tour. The Tasmanian batsman scored 117 in that game, played at Eglinton.
The match will create an unusual double for Mark Waugh, who, like his brother, has appeared for Ireland as a guest player - against Zimbabwe in 2000.
For Ireland, it's the first game together since their unsuccessful bid for World Cup qualification at last month's ICC Trophy tournament in Canada. Ryan Eagleson, Ed Joyce, Mark Patterson and Desmond Curry are unavailable from the team that visited Canada for a variety of reasons. Curry has not played for Ireland since being sent home in the middle of the ICC Trophy following a public falling-out with coach Ken Rutherford, a disciplinary committee yet to deliberate on his representative future. Conor Armstrong and Richard McDaid come into the Irish squad for this game.
Play begins at 11am local time (1000 GMT) with BBC2 in Northern Ireland showing an hour's highlights in the evening. The match is not an official one-day international.
Ireland: Kyle McCallan (capt), Jason Molins, Conor Armstrong, Peter Davy, Matt Dwyer, Derek Heasley, Dominick Joyce, Adrian McCoubrey, Richard McDaid, Paul Mooney, Andrew Patterson, Andrew White. (12th man to be named)
Australia: Ricky Ponting (capt), Michael Slater, Matthew Hayden, Justin Langer, Simon Katich, Mark Waugh, Damien Martyn, Wade Seccombe, Shane Warne, Colin Miller, Glenn McGrath, Brett Lee, Damien Fleming. (Two to be omitted)