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Rediff.com  » Cricket » Irish switch hitter Ed gears up for England

Irish switch hitter Ed gears up for England

Last updated on: February 16, 2011 12:25 IST

Joyce ready to face English banter

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Ed Joyce, the cricketer who started playing for one country, swapped for another and then switched back again, knows he is in the firing line when Ireland take on England in the World Cup.

Never mind England's dangerous pace bowling attack or the wiles of spinner Graham Swann, it is the inevitable barbs and joshing from his former team buddies which is keeping the 32-year-old Dubliner on his toes.

He admitted in an interview with Reuters this week that he has got it coming at that March 2 encounter in Bangalore.

Although he does not expect any nastiness from England, he does anticipate plenty of banter coming his way.

"A few of my Sussex team-mates play for England (Matt Prior, Michael Yardy and Luke Wright)," he said. "Matt will have ample opportunity to say a few words and he usually doesn't struggle!"


Image: Ed Joyce
Photographs: Reuters
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'England is a big game, a side we can hopefully beat'

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Four years ago, Joyce played for England against the country of his birth in the World Cup in the Caribbean and received more than his fair share of 'sledging' from his homeland "opposition" despite his team's victory.

Some of the Irish line-up had clearly not forgotten that Joyce had kick-started his career in green before seeking and winning England qualification in 2005 as he chased a dream of playing Test cricket for one of the sport's bigger guns.

That never materialised and Joyce decided in 2010 to cut his losses and return to play for Ireland with the sport's governing body, the International Cricket Council (ICC), cutting his usual qualification period so he could take part in the World Cup.

"England is a big game, a side we can hopefully beat. We have played them a couple of times in the last couple of years, albeit I wasn't playing then, but by all accounts we should have beaten them. So there's probably unfinished business there."


Image: Ed Joyce

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'I found it difficult to play against Ireland'

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"It feels good to be playing in a green shirt again, that feeling comes naturally because I'm an Irishman," Joyce told Reuters in a telephone interview from Nagpur, India where Ireland are preparing for cricket's premier event from February 19-April 2.

"Two of my games for England were against Ireland and I always found them very difficult and odd games to play in, having played for Ireland. It's not ideal up against your own countrymen."

He is viewing this World Cup in India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh as "a bonus" that he had not expected to be part of.

After a pre-tournament tour to India in November, when he reacquainted himself with Ireland's players, left-handed batsman Joyce feels at home again.


Image: Ed Joyce

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'Test cricket was always my main aim'

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He continues to earn his living on England's south coast with Sussex, though his international aspirations are no longer about wanting Test cricket with his adopted nation, and more about contributing to Ireland's progress towards cricket's top tier.

"I had been thinking about switching back for a couple of years, people had asked me, and with Ireland doing so well I wanted to be a part of that and try to help drive Irish cricket forward.

"Test cricket was always my main aim and it would have been great to make that leap with Ireland but I don't think that will happen for another five or 10 years, not in my time anyway."

Ireland's principal World Cup target, Joyce said, is to progress from the group stage and give themselves a shot at a one-off quarter-final showdown.

To achieve this, he said victory against Bangladesh in the team's opening match on Feb 25 is crucial.

"The pressure will be off in this tournament as we will be underdogs for most of the games, though there will be more expectation than last time. If we can play well and if the big teams have a bit of an off-day, we can beat anyone."


Image: Ed Joyce

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