Balbirnie praises 'game-changing' England approach as Ireland prepare for Test return
Ireland will play Test in Bangladesh next month before facing Ben Stokes' team in June
Andy Balbirnie has said that the ultra-attacking style England's Test team have adopted under Ben Stokes and Brendon McCullum "has a chance of changing the game" as a whole, as his Ireland team prepare for their first Test match in nearly four years.
Ireland's third and most recent Test was against England at Lord's in 2019, but their hiatus from the longest format will end in Mirpur next month, when they play a one-off Test match against Bangladesh on April 4 at the climax of a multi-format tour. They will then travel to Galle, where they will play Sri Lanka in a Test match on April 18.
A return to Lord's for a four-day Test on June 1 is the highlight of Ireland's Test calendar this year, and Balbirnie believes that their opponents have engineered "a shift" in the way that red-ball cricket is played over the last nine months - one which his side will have to find a way to counter.
"It's pretty obvious to see what England are doing has a chance of changing the game," Balbirnie told Cricket Ireland's in-house channels, before Ireland's departure to Bangladesh on Saturday.
"I think it'll naturally filter down to county cricket over the next number of years and we're going to see it first-hand at Lord's this summer, and we're going to have to find a way to create our own brand - whatever that is.
"As cricketers of our generation, we've seen a massive shift in the game in all three formats. The beauty of white-ball cricket is that it's always evolving. Test cricket probably hasn't had that recently, but now, in the immediate past, we've seen a shift. It's going to be really exciting to see how that continues."
Ireland have not played a men's international in Bangladesh since the T20 World Cup in 2014, but Balbirnie has some recent exposure to conditions after a recent stint at the Bangladesh Premier League with Khulna Titans.
"It was really beneficial for me," he said. "I was there to see first-hand a couple of their players, some of the grounds and conditions we're going to come up against in the next week or two, and just chat with some of the local guys about how they go about playing certain spinners or seamers.
"Over the next week, leading up to the first ODI [on March 18], we're going to be chatting as a team. Any little things that I picked up on in Bangladesh - or Curtis [Campher, who played for Chattogram Challengers at the BPL] - will only be beneficial to the group."