Paul Stirling will miss the opening day of their three-day game in Chelmsford but opponents Essex have agreed that he can join the match tomorrow.

With the agreement of Cricket Ireland, Stirling is still signed by Warwickshire Bears for their T20 Blast campaign and although Glenn Maxwell has flown in from the Indian Premier League, their other overseas player is injured so the Bears have requested that Stirling plays in tonight’s game against the Leicetershire Foxes.

Cricket Ireland High Performance Director Richard Holdsworth explained the rationale behind the decision.

“Paul was not originally due to focus on red-ball cricket this summer but when we postponed the four T20Is against Bangladesh and Sri Lanka cancelled the two ODIs in favour of a second Test match, Paul came to the coach and selectors and said that ‘with considerably less white-ball cricket I can focus on Test cricket as well’.

“He loves playing Test cricket so we changed the philosophy around that and Paul was adamant he wanted to play in Sri Lanka (where he scored his maiden Test century) and against England and wanted red-ball practice ahead of Lord’s.

“So we have an agreement that Paul will come into day 2, which while not ideal is very doable in that he is only up the road at Leicester so he will get a couple of days of red-ball action before next week’s Test match.”

With Essex having a lot of county cricket and a number of injuries, it has also been agreed that the four players not selected in the Ireland team will play for Essex in the match “so they should all get a decent run-out, rather than watching the others for three days, that’s something we have been working on with Essex for some time,” added Holdsworth.

The HP director also explained why Josh Little would sit out the Lord’s Test, which starts next Thursday.
Bowling four overs (in a match for the last number of months) is not good enough preparation to play Test cricket and physically he wouldn’t be ready. He is only coming out of the IPL and we both agreed that he needed to be in the best place possible for our World Cup qualifying tournament (in Zimbabwe next month). The 10-team finals is still the biggest prize for us and our main target. Having our best team on the park for pinnacle events is sacrosanct."