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Cricket Ireland defends decision to rest Josh Little for England Test

Cricket Ireland defends decision to rest Josh Little for England Test


Cricket Ireland have defended the absence of star bowler Josh Little from next week’s Lord’s Test against England, stating that the match is not a “top event”.

The 23-year-old left arm is one of Irish cricket’s hottest properties, signing a deal worth more than £400,000 with Gujarat Titans in the Indian Premier League this year.

But he will be conspicuous for his absence when his country play only their second Test against England, having asked for a break from his busy white-ball schedule.

Test cricket champions will see that as a worrying signal at a time when the most prestigious form of the game is being squeezed from all sides by franchise tournaments, but for Ireland the matter is clearer.

The World Cup qualifier in Zimbabwe in June and July has a clear priority over a stand-alone showpiece in the home of cricket.

CI’s high performance director Richard Holdsworth explained: “What we need to understand is that while we’re incredibly proud to be playing England at Lord’s… it’s a special occasion, but it’s not a top event.

“Going to a World Cup qualifier where only 10 teams can qualify for the World Cup is still the biggest priority in the game as far as we are concerned. Josh has been on the road for almost five months, which in itself is physically and mentally very exhausting.

“Josh initially asked us if he could have a rest period before the World Cup qualifier. Our management team and selectors discussed the matter in detail and amicably agreed that it was in the best interest of Josh and the team.

“We made it very clear at the start of our latest strategy that our top events would be white-ball cricket. A member with the funding we have simply cannot commit to three formats of the game, that is financially impossible.”

Holdsworth also suggested that Little’s steady diet of T20 cricket in recent times may have meant he was undercooked for the rigors of a Test match.

“Bowing four overs is not good enough to prepare a cricketer for Test cricket, where he could bowl more than 20 overs a day in two innings,” he said.

“We didn’t feel physically that he would really be ready for that because he hadn’t had any preparation.”

With more domestic leagues than ever before and a lack of financial clout to match them, Ireland could face even more tough decisions as their first-choice players land tournament deals.

That’s a fact not lost on Holdsworth, who added: “This is a whole new world for us and the players, it will definitely challenge everyone.

“All of our players who have played franchise cricket have learned a lot about how to balance that and get the best out of themselves for Ireland, but it’s a challenge.”




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