James Shannon has been recalled to the Ireland squad for the ICC Cricket World Cup qualifying tournament which begins in Zimbabwe in March.
The 27-year-old Northern Knights and Instonians top-order batsman enjoyed a prolific 2017 campaign at domestic and inter-provincial level, and is rewarded with a place in the 15-man squad.
"The selectors had no hesitation in giving James his opportunity after he scored so heavily last season," said Ireland head coach Graham Ford speaking at the squad announcement at Malahide Castle. "He has undoubted talent and this will be his chance to reproduce his form at international level."
Two members of the squad that won the Tri-Series in Dubai last week are omitted. Stuart Poynter is unavailable as he and his partner are expecting their first child in March while Ford explained his reasons for not including Jacob Mulder.
"It’s unfortunate that Jacob misses out, but we have plenty of spin options in the squad, with Andy McBrine coming back and doing so well in Dubai, along with George Dockrell, Simi Singh and Paul Stirling."
The squad has a total of 1925 caps between the 15 included, with no fewer than eight of those players having won more than 100 caps.
"Experience is such a vital commodity, especially in high pressure situations which this tournament will certainly have," said Ford. "What was refreshing in the Dubai tournament was the superb work ethic that I witnessed from everyone, and the willingness of all the players to learn and adapt to different ideas. While it’s certainly an experienced line-up, there is a nice balance of younger players in there too.
"It’s going to be a very cut-throat competition with just two places on offer, but we have the ability to make it to a fourth final if we play to our potential. It certainly won’t be through lack of hard work or preparation if we don’t make it. We will have a training camp in South Africa, playing four matches before heading to Zimbabwe."
Ireland along with the Windies, Afghanistan, and Zimbabwe, missed out on automatic qualification for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 by finishing outside the top eight on the ICC ODI Team Rankings at the 30 September 2017 cut-off date. These four sides have been joined by Hong Kong, the Netherlands, Scotland and Papua New Guinea, who finished in the top four of the ICC World Cricket League Championship.
The remaining two sides for the Zimbabwe tournament will be confirmed in Namibia from 8-15 February when Canada, Kenya, Namibia, Nepal, Oman and the United Arab Emirates will fight it out in the ICC World Cricket League Division 2.
The 10 teams taking part in the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier 2018 are split into two groups of five teams. The Windies, Ireland, the Netherlands, Papua New Guinea and winners of the ICC World Cricket League Division 2 make up Group A, while Afghanistan, Zimbabwe, Scotland, Hong Kong and runners-up of the ICC World Cricket League Division 2 form Group B.
Each side will play the other teams in their group once with the top three from the groups progressing to the Super Six stage. The teams each play three Super Six matches against the sides they did not meet in the group stage. All points won in the groups will be carried over to the Super Six stage apart from those gained against the bottom two from each group. The finalists will both progress to the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019
IRELAND WORLD CUP QUALIFIER SQUAD
William Porterfield (Formby/Warriors), Andrew Balbirnie (Pembroke/Lightning), Peter Chase (Malahide/Lightning), George Dockrell (Leinster/Lightning), Ed Joyce (Merrion/Lightning), Andrew McBrine (Donemana/Warriors), Barry McCarthy (Durham), Tim Murtagh (Middlesex), Kevin O’Brien (Railway Union/Lightning), Niall O’Brien (Nantwich/Warriors), Boyd Rankin (Warwickshire), James Shannon (Instonians/Knights), Simi Singh (YMCA/Lightning), Paul Stirling (Middlesex), Gary Wilson (Derbyshire).