Cricketer Josh Little’s Absence from Lord’s Test Defended by Cricket Ireland
In a surprising move, Cricket Ireland has defended the absence of star bowler Josh Little from next week’s Lord’s Test against England. According to the organization, the match is not “a pinnacle event,” and therefore it was best for Little to take a break.
The 23-year-old left-arm seamer is one of Irish cricket’s most valuable assets and landed a deal worth more than £400,000 with Gujarat Titans in this year’s Indian Premier League. However, he will be absent when his country plays only their second Test against England, having requested time off following his busy schedule in limited-overs cricket.
While some champions of test cricket may find this concerning as franchise tournaments increasingly squeeze out traditional forms of the game, Cricket Ireland sees things differently. The World Cup Qualifier in Zimbabwe in June and July is a clear priority for the visitors who are looking to qualify for the World Cup later this year in India. Therefore it takes precedence over playing at Lord’s which while special wasn’t considered pivotal.
Cricket Ireland’s high performance director Richard Holdsworth explained: “What we have to understand is that while we are incredibly proud to go and play against England at Lord’s…it’s a special occasion but it’s not a pinnacle event…going to a World Cup Qualifier where only 10 teams can qualify for the World Cup; that is still the biggest priority.” He clarified how much strain had been put on Little due five months on road stating that resting ahead of WC qualifier was likely beneficial.’
“Josh asked us initially if he could have a period of rest ahead of the World Cup Qualifier,” said Holdworth. “Our management team discussed this issue amicably with selectors agreeing that it was in the best interests of Josh and the team.”
Cricket Ireland also made it clear at the beginning of their last strategy that white-ball cricket would be their pinnacle event. It is financially impossible for a member with limited funding to commit to three formats.
Holdsworth suggested that Little’s steady diet of Twenty20 cricket may have meant he was underprepared for test match rigours. “Bowling four overs is not enough to prepare any cricketer to play Test cricket, where they could be bowling 20-plus overs a day in two innings,” he said. “We didn’t feel physically Josh was actually going to be ready for that having had no preparation.”
Ireland faces further challenges as more domestic leagues than ever before emerge and some first-choice players attract franchise deals. Holdsworth acknowledges this new reality: “This is a whole new world…challenging everybody,” he said. “All our players who’ve played franchise cricket have learned about how we balance being the best they can be for Ireland, but it still poses challenges.”