There was no one more surprised than Matthew Humphreys when he got the phone call from Ireland chairman of selectors Andrew White to tell him he would be spending the next seven weeks in Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.

The 20-year-old Lisburn bowler was due to be the only uncapped player who left on Saturday for Dhaka but he is travelling as the specialist slow left armer to a country where spin reigns supreme.

In this month’s three-match one-day international series against England, Bangladesh spinners took 17 of their 24 wickets so there must be a great chance of Humphreys making his one-day international debut on Saturday, the first of Ireland’s seven games, across all three formats, culminating in their fourth Test match which starts in the Bangladesh capital on April 4.

It was at the Ireland Under-19 World Cup in January last year where Humphreys first came to prominence, and a promising first season with Northern Knights has resulted in a whirlwind 13 months, propelling him into the international arena.

“I have been around all the under-age squads, played a bit of Ireland Under-15s and 17s, but my first experience of high level cricket was the U19 World Cup in West Indies, my first big tour,” says Humphreys. “It was pretty awesome being away and training at those grounds and playing against that calibre of players.  

“The Knights has been great, a good stepping stone for me, and as well as getting called up for net bowling with the Ireland squad last summer, I have been training with Nathan (Hauritz, Ireland’s spin bowling coach) last winter.

So the clues were definitely there that Humphreys was on the selectors’ radar, confirmed by head coach Heinrich Malan after the tour squads were announced.

“We have been crying out for a left arm slow bowler from a skillset point of view. We also took into account he was the go-to guy at the U19 World Cup where he bowled in every phase, showed that he’s a competitor and showed he can take wickets.

“So he’s got all the traits and attributes that we’re looking for and hopefully he gets some game time at some stages, but with the T20 World Cup next year being in the West Indies and America, he has shown those sort of surfaces are going to assist that sort of skillset.”

It was only three years ago that Humphreys changed his style to become an orthodox slow left arm bowler, as he explains.

“I had a back problem during the summer when bowling leg spin at 16 so I decided to try something else and it has obviously gone well. It was about that time I moved to Lisburn – I had been in and out of the team at Instonians (where he had been since the age of eight) – and saw more opportunity there.”

That proved another good career move, helping the Wallace Park side to their shock Premier League victory last season although he still managed to fit in multi-day games for the Ireland Academy side which played England Under 19s (“I took a five-for”, he says modestly) and a rain-affected match in Arundel, where he bowled only five overs.

“That actually was my first experience of red-ball cricket but I’m a big fan and it’s my favourite format. I like the challenge of working out batsmen over a period of time, the longer I have to bowl the better.”

Maybe, a Test match debut may not be such a surprise.

North Down opening bowler Tom Mayes joined Humphreys on the plane as an uncapped player after his late-call-up to the squad .

The South African Irish passport-holder, who played eight times for Northern Knights last season, flew out with the squad yesterday as replacement for Barry McCarthy who needs surgery on a knee injury and he will stay on to replace Craig Young, who is still undergoing  rehab, in the T20 squad.