Andy McBrine can’t remember the last time he opened the batting – “it must have been my Donemana youth days” – but he will walk out with Paul Stirling to do just that for Ireland in their opening World Cup Qualifying match against Oman in Bulawayo.

It’s quite the responsibility, and promotion – he was number nine in the Lord’s Test match just two weeks ago – but it was that second innings against England, when he was stranded on 86 not out, that inspired the coach and captain to ask McBrine to assume the new role.

“I’ve done three in 50-over cricket before and to me there’s not much difference between opening and three so hope my good form continues,” says the North West Warriors captain, who tributes Gary Wilson, now the Ireland assistant coach, for his belief that he could face the new ball.

“It was very hard to get up the order, there were very good players in front of me, I was always the spinning option so it was probably when Gary came in as Warriors coach. He told me I was a good batter so he gave me the confidence that I needed.

“I got a few runs with the Warriors, got more time in the middle which I hadn’t been getting, then Covid happened, lads got injured and Bally (Ireland captain Andrew Balbirnie) came in that morning during the South Africa series (in 2021) and said I was batting three. I said ‘grand’ and took it my stride and I think I did a decent enough job.”

He certainly did, averaging 37 from eight innings at first wicket down for Ireland, so he is remaining positive despite two low scores as opener in the warm-up games last week.

 “It’s a new challenge and one I’m looking forward to, hopefully take it with both hands and capitalise and help the team get totals on the board.”

The Lord’s innings was his second backs-to-the-wall contribution in four Tests, he hit 72 in the second innings against Bangladesh when Ireland faced a first innings deficit of 155 and ensured the home team would bat again. A scenario he repeated with Mark Adair against England.

It’s that true grit which, undoubtedly, prompted the short conversation between captain and his choice of opening batter for these qualifiers.

As Balbirnie said: “It wasn’t really a discussion, he was absolutely all for it. He is such an adaptable cricketer that you can put him anywhere, he’ll just take it on the chin and just go it. He is someone who also gets into the team as an off-spinner as well so that gives us other options down the order.”

And McBrine accepts that his major role in the team remains his bowling – he has missed only one of the last 58 one-day internationals, and that was because of injury.

“That’s what got me into the team and I still work as hard on my spin bowling as my batting now. Previously, though, I was facing the older ball, now it’s getting into the mindset of facing the new ball and getting myself into good positions and go on from there.”

Ireland coach Heinrich Malan, at his pre-tournament press conference, said that every game would be a scrap. You wouldn’t want to have anyone else in your corner for a scrap than Andrew 'Scra' McBrine.