Ireland could introduce their second NCU debutant in this week’s T20 internationals against Bangladesh in Chattogram and Tom Mayes is ready if called upon.

The 22-year-old South African bowled in the nets on Saturday, in 31 degree temperatures, alongside the returning Craig Young, his club-mate at North Down and Mark Adair as they sampled life in the Chattogram stadium for the first time ahead of the first of three games tomorrow (9am start BST).

It has been quite a journey for Mayes, who only arrived in Northern Ireland for the first time in April 2021 with an Irish passport, courtesy of his paternal grandmother who was born in Dublin.

In his first season at The Green, Mayes took 33 wickets – only two players in the NCU took more – and was invited to Millfield School as a net bowler with the Ireland team.

Last year he took 22 wickets, having played eight games less in a difficult season for the Comber side but Mayes continued to make progress with nine games for the Northern Knights.

He returned home to South Africa following the Irish season to play for Pretoria High School Old Boys and that’s where he heard about his call-up.

“Absolutely it was a surprise but it was one I was hoping and looking for, but certainly unexpected to come so soon. A dream come true,” said Mayes, who has been playing cricket since the age of 10 and after going through all the age groups, graduated to the South African Colts side.

“I’m not sure if I will get a game but if I do I want to grab the opportunity with both hands.

“It’s a big learning curve out here. Different aspects to the game, the heat and humidity but it won’t stop us trying to win a cricket match. The lads were disappointed by the ODI results but it’s a case of ‘let’s learn from this’. We also have a Test match coming up, the first in a while and the first for many of the squad. So it’s a case of finding our way to do things out here.”

Young was trying to say under the radar as he built up to what will be his first international for eight months, since the New Zealand series at Stormont when he won his 100th cap and two games later took his 150th wicket in the T20 series.  

His experience will be invaluable after Ireland’s whitewash by Bangladesh in the ODI series when they were also also missing Josh Little and Barry McCarthy, the former preparing for the start of the IPL this week and the latter on the injury list, which has potentially given Mayes his big chance.