Ireland’s Lorcan Tucker to miss Zimbabwe T20Is to play ILT20

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He will be announced as a new signing by Reliance-owned franchise MI Emirates at the inaugural ILT20 in the UAE in the coming days. Like Little and Sterling, Tucker will miss the T20 Internationals from January 12 to 15 but will play the ODIs from January 18 to 23.

Tucker’s participation in the ILT20 is the latest test for Cricket Ireland’s selection policy, which began to include scope for players to skip some bilateral series in order to make the most of “development opportunities” offered by franchise leagues Is.

Historically, Ireland has tended to grant No Objection Certificates (NOCs) to centrally contracted players only when the leagues do not conflict with their international schedules. But the growth of their fixture list, the increasing number of opportunities available in franchise cricket, and the new prominence of their key players suggests their stance will soften enough to ensure they are tempted to turn down central contracts and go independent No.

Little, the left-arm pacer who is skipping the Zimbabwe T20Is to play for Pretoria Capitals in the SA20, is the most sought-after player. Last week, he was signed by Multan Sultans on a lucrative ‘platinum’ deal in the PSL draft, and he is available at a base price of INR 50 lakh (£50,000 approx) in Friday’s IPL auction.

ESPNcricinfo understands he is likely to be available for the duration of the IPL if signed – although a decision will depend on Ireland’s progress in the ODI Super League. If results elsewhere mean they are still mathematically in contention for automatic qualification for the 2023 World Cup, they will be expected to return home for Ireland’s final Super League series against Bangladesh in May.

“Cricket Ireland’s view on the participation of franchise cricket by our contracted players is that it is Ireland-first by default,” said Richard Holdsworth, Ireland’s long-serving performance director. “However, on a case-by-case basis, where the opportunity to take advantage of the franchise league offer may provide an advantage for the Irish set-up or player development, we will consider flexibility in selection.

“It goes without saying that proximity to major tournaments or where head coaches would prefer to have players available for international matches would be a priority.

“The recent success of our senior squad on the world stage has attracted the attention of a number of franchise tournaments. We take this as both a positive sign of our trajectory as a cricketing nation and a long-awaited recognition for the talent on this island Huh.”

“This month alone eight of our senior squad have joined the franchise league, and we expect the demand for Irish talent to grow in the years to come.”

Ireland national selector Andrew White said: “The selectors have recognized a development opportunity for Lorcan Tucker to take up the opportunity for the franchise T20 tournament next month, given the location and quality of the players involved.

“Although he was previously named in the Irish squad to tour Zimbabwe, we recognized that the opportunity for Lorcan to play in the UAE Franchise League would give him an experience that could greatly benefit his game, whilst giving us the opportunity to expand Gives. Our international talent pool.”

Tucker has been replaced in the team by Ross Adair, the spin-bowling all-rounder and elder brother of Mark Adair. He previously enjoyed a professional rugby union career with Ulster and described his call-up as a “huge honour”.

Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @mroller98

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