Craig Young is set to make his Test match debut when Ireland play their next multi-day match at the end of the month against Afghanistan in Abu Dhabi.
The North Down pace man has been injured or out of favour for Ireland’s first seven Tests but now as one of the first names on the team sheet when available, he should become the nation’s 26th Test match cricketer.
Young, who turns 34 in April, has played 18 first class matches, taking an impressive 67 wickets at an average of just 24, far superior to Mark Adair, to Barry McCarthy and even Josh Little who has again been given permission to miss another Test match.
Little, currently playing in the International T20 tournament in the UAE, has been selected only for the three T20 internationals as they are vital preparation for the T20 World Cup at the start of June. The 24 year-old left-armer has still played only six first class games.
Graham Hume, who because he spent his formative years in his native South Africa has played 107 first class matches, taking 317 wickets at an average of just over 18, and already has three Test matches under his belt, but unless there is a change at the top of the batting order, there will be no room for a a third specialist pace bowler.
Andrew Balbirnie, still the Test match captain, will lead Ireland for the 94th time although white-ball skipper Paul Stirling, after a delayed start to his Test career, is selected and will continue in the middle-order if red-ball specialists James McCollum and PJ Moor resume their opening partnership.
Apart from Young, there are three other players in the 15-man squad yet to play a Test match, with slow left armer Theo van Woerkom likely to join Young as a debutant ahead of Barry McCarthy and Civil Service North opening bowler Matthew Foster who was selected for the Sri Lankan Tests last year but was forced to miss the tour because of injury and is still waiting his Ireland debut.
Between the Test match and T20Is there are three one-day internationals with Gareth Delany and Neil Rock replacing McCollum and Moor while Ross Adair, Ben White and Little join up for the T20Is in place of Foster, McBrine and van Woerkom.
The squad leave on February 18 for a preparation camp ahead of the series, which begins on February 28, but there is no match action scheduled with only practice sessions as build-up to the first senior red-ball action in almost nine months.