Cook to lead fringe England squad to take on Ireland's Cup heroes


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The Independent Online

There was a time when playing Ireland across the water would be nothing much more than a jolly for England's cricketers. But no longer – and certainly not after a certain World Cup result that did wonders for the sale of the dark stuff all around the globe.

A week may be a long time in some pursuits but it is safe to assume that six months will not have been nearly long enough for the Irish to have forgotten a single detail of their three-wicket triumph in Bangalore.

As it happens, few if any members of the England side that wilted in the face of Kevin O'Brien's 50-ball century during this year's epic World Cup encounter will be present at Clontarf cricket ground on Thursday. But while those players who do make the journey to Dublin for a one-off one-day international can hardly put the record straight, they could do their own long-term prospects a fair bit of good.

A late change of plan has seen England's selectors abandon the idea of announcing a squad to cover not only the Ireland game but also a series of five one-day internationals against India. Instead, they will limit themselves today to the naming of a team to take on the Irish and then pick another party next Saturday.

The new timetable makes sense for a couple of reasons. Firstly, there is little point in choosing teams before you have to. And, secondly, England can now deal with the Ireland match in isolation, thereby giving many of their senior players a short breather after a draining Test series against India while pitching some talented youngsters into what will be a full-on contest.

The danger, of course, is that Ireland will talk – at least in their team meeting – of being treated with less than total respect and try to use any perceived slight as a motivational tool.

In truth, though, they are likely to face an England team, led by their still new one-day captain, Alastair Cook, champing at the bit to make a big impression on selectors who already have one eye on the 2015 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.

James Anderson, Stuart Broad, Tim Bresnan, Graeme Swann, Kevin Pietersen, Ian Bell and Eoin Morgan are likely absentees from today's squad. And should it pan out that way then up-and-comers such as Jade Dernbach, Steve Finn, Chris Woakes, Samit Patel, James Taylor, Alex Hales and Ben Stokes can hope to make the starting XI in Dublin.

Of those bright young things listed above, only Dernbach figured strongly against Sri Lanka earlier this summer when England came from behind to win the series 3-2. The Johannesburg-born Surrey fast bowler did a good job, too, with his clever changes of pace and kept his place for the decider when it turned into a straight choice between him and Broad.

In Dublin, the spotlight could be picking out any number of newcomers. It will be something of a surprise, though, if Leicestershire's diminutive middle-order batsman Taylor does not get a chance to show what he can do at senior level after impressing most observers when under scrutiny this season.

England have picked the 21-year-old for Lions duty at every opportunity since the start of the campaign – and, most recently, he scored two centuries in three 50-over games against Sri Lanka A.

One man definitely not travelling to Ireland is Andy Flower. Giving the coach a rest may be something new, but it makes perfect sense and is probably overdue.

Possible squad for Ireland one-dayer

Cook (capt), Kieswetter (wkt), Trott, Bopara, Taylor, Hales, Stokes, Patel, Woakes, Finn, Dernbach, Tremlett.