Ireland pick batter Doheny, pacer Olphert for India T20I series

Dublin, June 16 (IANS) Ireland have called in uncapped top-order batter top-order batter Stephen Doheny and pace bowler Conor Olphert for the two T20Is against India at home later this month.

Both Doheny and Olphert were recently handed retainer contracts by Cricket Ireland.

Doheny, 23, is the current leading run-scorer in the Inter-Provincial T20 Trophy competition with 158 runs at an average of 52.67, with the highest score of 74*. Doheny has scored valuable runs at the top of the order in the 50-over inter-provincial competition, with 146 runs at 36.50 with the highest score of 97.

The 26-year-old Olphert, who made his List A debut in 2020, has been at his best this season. The pace bowler was taken as a net bowler on Ireland men’s tour to the UAE in 2021. He has claimed six wickets at 19.17 in the Inter-Provincial T20 Trophy so far and has also bagged 6 wickets in the 50-over competition.

The squad, for the two matches to be polayed on June 26 and 28, will be led by Andrew Balbirnie and includes Mark Adair, Paul Stirling and Andrew McBrine.

Andrew White, chair of national men’s selectors, said it was pleasing to see many new faces in the squad, adding picking the squad for the series was a challenging process.

“There aren’t many better challenges for a new national coach to have than to start your tenure against the world’s number one-ranked T20I side, India.

“Heinrich [Malan] has been working hard since his arrival in Ireland, crisscrossing the island, getting to know the players and familiarising himself with the growing depth of talent we have’here – and it’s this growing depth of talent that has made a challenging selection process for the first fixtures of the men’s home season,” he said in a release issued by Cricket Ireland.

“The T20I squad features a familiar core to the squad, but it’s pleasing to see a number of new faces earn their call-ups in Stephen Doheny and Conor Olphert.

“Both players have impressed at inter-provincial level this season with consistent performances, while Doheny has also come off the back of a good tour of Namibia with the Ireland Wolves. Olphert has bowled quickly, particularly on good wickets at Comber last month, and his selection gives us an opportunity to look at him as a tactical option given what lies ahead for the rest of the year.”

“As always, there are numerous players who could probably consider themselves unlucky not to make these squads but runs and wickets are the currency we look for and the selectors believe we have picked squads that recognise and reward consistent form and performance on the field,” Andrew White added.

Ireland T20I squad for the India series:

Andrew Balbirnie (c), Mark Adair, Curtis Campher, Gareth Delany, George Dockrell, Stephen Doheny, Josh Little, Andrew McBrine, Barry McCarthy, Conor Olphert, Paul Stirling, Harry Tector, Lorcan Tucker, Craig Young.