While a shadow England team face a test of their international credentials against Ireland at the Malahide Cricket Club in Dublin on Tuesday afternoon, plans for a fresh assault to regain their status as the world’s No 1 ranked Test side took shape yesterday with confirmation that next summer’s series against India will be played over five matches.
The England and Wales Cricket Board confirmed on Monday that all five Tests will be played in the space of just 42 days starting on 9 July, with a five-match one-day series and a Twenty20 international following straight afterwards. India, who are level on 116 ranking points with England in second place in the standings, were convincingly beaten 4-0 in 2011 before Alastair Cook’s side recorded England’s first victory on the subcontinent since 1984 earlier this year.
“This will be the first time England has hosted India in a five-Test series in more than 50 years and the length of the series reflects the iconic status which contests between these two great cricketing nations now enjoy,” said the ECB chief executive, David Collier. “We anticipate significant demand for tickets both for the Investec Test series, and for the One-Day International series, which will be the first encounter between these two countries in the 50-over format since India’s triumph in the final of the ICC Champions Trophy competition at Edgbaston earlier this year.”
Trent Bridge, Lord’s, The Kia Oval, the Ageas Bowl and Old Trafford will host the Tests, although the Southampton venue must pass a final facility inspection before being confirmed to host the third Test.
Steven Finn is the only member of the England squad who travelled to Ireland yesterday who played any part in England’s Ashes victory this summer. The Hampshire opener Michael Carberry is expected to make his ODI debut for a side which will be led by Eoin Morgan, who learnt his trade at Malahide as a teenager, having previously played hurling. Morgan was compelled to defend England’s selection policy yesterday, with fellow Irishman Boyd Rankin also poised to make his debut, having made 16 appearances for Ireland. “Even when I was still playing for Ireland I was playing for the south of England Under-17s, Under-19s, the Middlesex Academy and, from there, the Lions,” said Morgan. “They have always been helpful to me. I know Boyd feels the same way.”
The match has been labelled as the biggest in Irish cricket history, certainly on home soil, and the public seem to have welcomed it. Ireland famously beat England at the 2011 World Cup in Bangalore and the 26-year-old captain insists there will be no complacency as England tune up for the five-match series against Australia which starts in Leeds on Friday.
“I think we have brought a strong side, a young and very talented side,” Morgan said. “Given opportunities, hopefully they will show they are world-beaters. It is very exciting for us to come across here and give these guys opportunities to go and flourish in a game like this. We will certainly not take Ireland for granted.”
Gary Ballance, James Taylor, Danny Briggs, Ben Stokes, Chris Jordan and Jamie Overton could all be handed their chances to press their claims for selection today.
The Ireland captain, William Porterfield, who plays his county cricket with Warwickshire, feels too much has been made of the visitors’ apparent lack of strength. “To be honest, I don’t really see where it comes from,” he said. “They have picked a squad to play ourselves and Australia and that is it as far as I am concerned. They are looking forward to [World Cup] 2015, that is the next big stage for everyone. If you look through their side, there are some pretty exciting young players in there.”