14 November 2007

The ECB released this morning the list of fixtures for the 2008 cricket season, including the group stages of the Friends Provident Trophy.

In a revised format, the 20 participating teams are divided into four groups, with Ireland featuring in the Midlands Section. The other teams in their group are Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire, Northamptonshire, and Warwickshire.
In an added boost, Ireland's opening fixture against Nottinghamshire at Clontarf on April 27th will be broadcast live on Sky Sports.
The fixtures will potentially see both Niall O' Brien and Boyd Rankin come into opposition with their Ireland team mates. The pair, currently in India preparing for the start of the ICL, are on the books of Northants and Warwickshire. O' Brien cemented his place in the first team in the latter stages of the 2007 season, scoring 109 in the County Championship match versus Leicestershire.
Rankin endured a painful domestic 2007 with Derbyshire, being sidelined for most of the season through injury. He decided not to remain at Derbyshire, and also scorned the advances of Yorkshire in favour of a 3 year deal with Warwickshire, with the clinching factor being the opportunity to work with South African Test bowling legend, Allan Donald.
Ireland have in their ranks Andrew White, who spent two years with Northants without making a major impact. He will be keen to prove his former employers wrong, and in an added twist may well be facing them on his 100th appearance for his country. White currently has 94 caps to his name (7th in the all time appearances list), and depending on how many times he plays during the pre season tour of Bangladesh, will possibly reach the milestone when Northants host Ireland in early May.
The fixtures in full are as follows:
  • Ireland v Notts - April 27th - Clontarf -Televised live on Sky Sports
  • Leicester v Ireland - May 4th -  Grace Road
  • Northants v Ireland  - May 5th - Northants
  • Ireland v Warwickshire - May 16th - Stormont
  • Ireland v Leicestershire - May 18th - Stormont
  • Warwickshire v Ireland - May 25th - Edgbaston
  • Notts v Ireland - May 26th - Trent Bridge
  • Ireland v Northants - May 28th - Clontarf

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