Ireland defending resting bowler Josh Little for England Test – ‘A special occasion, not a pinnacle event’

Ireland have defended the absence of key seamer Josh Little for next week’s Lord’s Test against England, with the World Cup qualifying tournament in June and July taking priority.

Little, who recently played in the IPL for Gujarat Titans before featuring in a white-ball series against Bangladesh, requested a break following his busy limited-overs schedule.

Ireland will face sides including West Indies, Sri Lanka and Scotland in the 10-team World Cup Qualifier in Zimbabwe later this summer with the top two nations reaching the competition proper in India in October and November.

Cricket Ireland’s high performance director Richard Holdsworth said: “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.

Thursday 1st June 10:00am

“Going to a World Cup Qualifier where only 10 teams can qualify for the World Cup concerned, that is still the biggest priority in the game as far as we’re concerned. We’ve made it very clear at the beginning of our last strategy that our pinnacle events would be white-ball cricket.

“Josh has been on the road for the best part of five months, that in itself is very tiring physically and mentally. He asked us initially if he could have a period of rest ahead of the World Cup Qualifier.

“Our management team and selectors discussed the issue in detail and were amicably in agreement that it was in the best interests of Josh and the team.

“A member with the funding we’ve got simply cannot commit to three formats of the game, it’s financially impossible.”

Gujarat Titans' Josh Little celebrates the dismissal of Rajasthan Royals' Sanju Samson during the Indian Premier League (IPL)cricket match between Rajasthan Royals and Gujarat Titans in Jaipur, India, Friday, May 5, 2023. (AP Photo/Surjeet Yadav)
Little enjoyed his first Indian Premier League stint after representing Gujarat Titans

Holdsworth added that Ireland did not feel Little would be ready for the rigors of Test match bowling having principally played T20 cricket in recent months.

He added: “Bowling four overs is not good enough to prepare any cricketer to play test cricket, where he could be bowling 20-plus overs a day in two innings.

“We didn’t feel physically he was actually going to be ready for that having had no preparation.”

On the abundance of domestic tournaments now available to players like Little, Holdsworth said: “This is a whole new world to us and the players, it’s absolutely going to challenge everybody.

“All our players who’ve played franchise cricket have learned a lot about how we balance that and being the best they can be for Ireland, but it is a challenge.”

Watch Ireland’s four-day Test against England, at Lord’s, live on Sky Sports Cricket from 10am on Thursday June 1.