Ireland

  • Last Updated: September 19 2012, 11:52 BST

We take a look at Ireland's squad, key players and hopes at the ICC World Twenty20.

Porterfield: Captains Ireland in Sri Lanka

Group B Fixtures:
September 19: Australia at R Premadasa Stadium, Colombo, 1100 BST
September 24: West Indies at R Premadasa Stadium, Colombo, 1500 BST

Overview: The big news surrounding Ireland in the build-up to this event was based on the fledgling (and broadly meaningless) ICC T20 rankings, and the fact that for a few days William Porterfield's side were above Australia in the table. The Aussies weren't too worried about it, with skipper George Bailey suggesting the truth will out in their group-stage clash in Colombo.

The clear implication was that the Aussies weren't overly concerned. And if we're honest, they're probably right. Ireland have not played a top-eight side this year, and lost three T20Is to Bangladesh in July before a win over Zimbabwe.

They've also won their other eight matches this year, albeit against the likes of Scotland, the Netherlands and Afghanistan, and will have some confidence of adding to their recent underdog successes at major tournaments.

Theirs is a tall order, though, having been grouped with 2010 runners-up Australia and a powerful, experienced West Indies side who are seen by many observers as major contenders for the title.

The last time Ireland played the Windies, in 2010, the men in green lost by 70 runs, and Ireland have never played Australia in a T20I. Of the three ODIs they've contested, two went to the Aussies and the other was a no-result.

Strengths: Even with their best batsman donning the blue of England, Ireland still have plenty of able batsmen. Porterfield, Ed Joyce and Paul Stirling bring plenty of talent and know-how to the table - both in international cricket and the English domestic scene - while the O'Brien brothers Niall and Kevin are proven big-game performers. George Dockrell is a spinner of huge promise.

Weaknesses: The seam-bowling department looks weak with redoubtable veteran Trent Johnston's abilities on the wane and Boyd Rankin dogged by injuries. As is so often the case with the minnows, the gulf between the side's strongest and weakest components is a wide one. Another weakness not entirely of their own making is a simple lack of matches. They played no T20s in 2011 and just three ODIs this year, which makes cohesion difficult - especially when the standard is suddenly ramped up at a global gathering.

Six-hitter: Paul Stirling. The stocky Middlesex opener is a beautifully clean striker of a cricket ball and has shown his ability to clear the ropes in T20, List A and ODI cricket for club and country. With high scores likely to be needed on flat pitches in Sri Lanka, 22-year-old Stirling could be the man to propel himself into the wider cricketing consciousness given the biggest stage. He's also an improving off-spinner so may well have an all-round role to play.

Strike bowler: George Dockrell. The left-arm spinner impressed at last year's 50-over World Cup and has picked up wickets in all forms of the game (his average is below 30 in all professional formats). But it's his economy rate that really catches the eye. He concedes barely four runs an over in ODI cricket and his T20I economy is better than a run a ball. Admittedly the bulk of those games are against second-tier opposition, but it's still a remarkable stat. Only Daniel Vettori has bowled more in T20I with a better economy.

One to watch: Tim Murtagh. The Middlesex seamer qualified for Ireland via his grandparents and adds vast experience and nous - and no little ability - to a weak seam attack. The 31-year-old only made his Ireland debut this year but he has been a stalwart of Middlesex's attack in recent seasons and has been among the leading wicket-takers in English cricket for the last two years.

Squad: William Porterfield (capt), Alex Cusack, George Dockrell, Trent Johnston, Nigel Jones, Ed Joyce, Tim Murtagh, Kevin O'Brien, Niall O'Brien (wk), Boyd Rankin, Max Sorensen, Paul Stirling, Stuart Thompson, Andrew White, Gary Wilson (wk).