Intercontinental Cup: Ireland at full strength for Papua New Guinea tie

Boyd Rankin
Boyd Rankin made his only Test appearance for England against Australia in January 2014

Ireland have included pace bowler Boyd Rankin in a full strength squad for their Intercontinental Cup match against Papua New Guinea in January.

Warwickshire player Rankin, 31, has switched back to Ireland from England.

The Irish top the table with maximum points from convincing wins in their matches against the UAE and Namibia.

"We've been trying hard to get Boyd back into the fold and it's given everyone an extra boost," said Ireland head coach John Bracewell.

"Boyd's return gives William [Porterfield, captain] plenty of options on the bowling front and it's good to have that wrapped up before Christmas."

Ireland's victories in the opening two rounds have put them in a strong position in their quest for Test status.

"It's a very strong-looking squad with a nice blend of experience and a sprinkling of youth," added Bracewell, who is currently in Australia on the coaching staff of Big Bash League franchise Brisbane Heat.

"We're aware of just how quickly PNG have progressed in recent years, indeed beating the Netherlands in this competition. We'll be getting to Australia a week ahead of the game and have lined up a three-day game to help us prepare."

Following the conclusion of the Intercontinental Cup game, Ireland will stay in Townsville playing PNG three times to help prepare for the ICC World Twenty20 in India, which starts in March.

They will then travel to the UAE where they will play an additional three games, two of which will be T20 internationals, against opposition to be announced.

"We've a total of six T20s lined up which will help us get into the right frame of mind ahead of India," explained Bracewell.

"Andrew Poynter and Max Sorensen join the squad for those games - both have proved very valuable in the past in the shortest format."

Bracewell also revealed that Tim Murtagh had made himself available for T20 internationals, reversing his decision to retire from that format earlier in the year.

He added: "Tim's experience is invaluable. The games come at a perfect time for him ahead of the English domestic season, so the demands and stresses on his body won't be so great."

Ireland squad for games v Papua New Guinea and tour of UAE

William Porterfield (Warwickshire, capt), Andrew Balbirnie (Middlesex), George Dockrell (Leinster), Ed Joyce* (Sussex), Tim Murtagh (Middlesex), Andrew McBrine (Donemana), Kevin O'Brien (Railway Union), Niall O'Brien (Leicestershire, wk), Andrew Poynter** (Clontarf), Stuart Poynter (Durham), Boyd Rankin (Warwickshire), Max Sorensen** (CIYMS), Paul Stirling (Middlesex), Stuart Thompson (Eglinton), Gary Wilson (Surrey, wk), Craig Young (Bready).

*for Intercontinental Cup only; **for T20s only