England v Ireland: Eoin Morgan would be welcome back to Irish set-up says Ed Joyce
|England v Ireland: One-day international series|
|Venues: Bristol and Lord’s Dates: Friday, 5 May & Sunday, 7 May|
|Coverage: Live on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra and the BBC Sport website|
Ireland would welcome Eoin Morgan back “with open arms” should the England one-day international captain opt to play for his country of birth again.
Dublin-born Morgan, 30, began his international career with Ireland but made the England switch in 2009.
He will play his 136th ODI for England against Ireland in Bristol on Friday, before a repeat at Lord’s on Sunday.
“He’s probably our greatest ever cricketer, of course we’d welcome Eoin back,” said Ireland captain Ed Joyce.
Joyce, 38, also opted to leave the Irish set-up to play for England in 2006 before returning in 2011. He does not think Morgan will ever follow suit but is hopeful Cricket Ireland can develop a team that will mean players do not have to switch allegiance in order to play “elite-level cricket”.
Before England’s opening fixture of what will be their longest ever home international summer, Morgan has also dismissed the chances of a return, calling questions on the matter “very cheeky”, before responding that there was “no chance”.
Favourites must deliver – Morgan
Morgan, 30, has called on his England side to stay focused for the two Ireland fixtures, as they prepare for the Champions Trophy, which begins at The Oval on 1 June.
England lost in the final of the 50-over competition to India in 2013 and Morgan believes the event holds “huge potential” this time around, with the home side made bookmakers’ favourites.
“We’ve marked it as the halfway stage to the 2019 World Cup,” said Morgan. “We’re not taking this game for granted. The strength of the side we’re putting out reflects that, and it’s a really important summer for us – so we’re taking it as seriously as any other fixture.”
Ben Stokes, Chris Woakes and Jos Buttler will miss the weekend warm-up games because of IPL commitments in India but will return for the tournament, where England meet Bangladesh, Australia and New Zealand in Group A.
Durham pace bowler Mark Wood is likely to feature in Bristol as he looks to impress Morgan after having three ankle operations since last playing for England in September.
England are scheduled to play 21 matches across all forms of the game by 29 September – in addition to the Champions Trophy, which features the top eight teams in the ICC’s ODI rankings.
Ireland first is ‘huge’ – Joyce
Ireland currently sit 12th in the rankings – seven places below England – and have lost their last two matches, to Afghanistan.
Joyce says the game in Bristol is “huge” because Ireland have never played England in England before.
His side will also play New Zealand and Bangladesh twice each by 21 May and, across the six games, Joyce expects a return to the quality of play that almost saw his side qualify from their pool at the 2015 World Cup.
“It’s no secret that England are huge favourites,” said Joyce. “We have had a tough 18 months, there’s no getting away from that. The last World Cup we played well, but since then we have had a change to the team, three or four important guys have retired and it’s hard to replace them straight away with a small talent pool.”
Ireland have been boosted by the inclusion of Paul Stirling and Kevin O’Brien – the hero of Ireland’s 2011 World Cup win over England – in the squad, as the pair continue to recover from finger and hamstring problems respectively.
England: Eoin Morgan (Middlesex), Moeen Ali (Worcestershire), Jonny Bairstow (Yorkshire), Jake Ball (Nottinghamshire), Sam Billings (Kent), Ben Duckett (Northamptonshire), Steven Finn (Middlesex), Alex Hales (Nottinghamshire), Liam Plunkett (Yorkshire), Adil Rashid (Yorkshire), Joe Root (Yorkshire), Jason Roy (Surrey), David Willey (Yorkshire), Mark Wood (Durham)
Ireland: William Porterfield (Warwickshire, capt), Andrew Balbirnie (Leinster Lightning), Peter Chase (Leinster Lightning), George Dockrell (Leinster Lightning), Ed Joyce (Sussex/Leinster Lightning), Tim Murtagh (Middlesex), Andrew McBrine (NW Warriors), Barry McCarthy (Leinster Lightning), Kevin O’Brien (Leinster Lightning), Niall O’Brien (NW Warriors, wk), Paul Stirling (Middlesex), Stuart Thompson (NW Warriors), Gary Wilson (Derbyshire/Northern Knights, wk), Craig Young (NW Warriors).