“I’M a born and bred and proud Irishman.”
Dublin native and Ireland’s leading batsman Ed Joyce did not hold back when declaring his loyalty to his home country.
This affirmation is welcome because until 2011 the outstanding cricketer was batting on a different green.
For four years prior to this the 34-year-old was wearing the three lions badge on his shirt instead.
On his years that included representing England in the 2007 World Cup, Joyce said, “I loved my time playing for England”, but continued, “I’m much happier now… playing for my home country.”
He stresses that there were “no real opportunities to play at the highest level for Ireland,” when he made this decision, but now “Ireland are playing a really good standard of cricket” in One Day International (ODI).
Joyce is not the only Irishman to have played for the England cricket team; Eoin Morgan (Dublin) and Boyd Rankin (Derry) have both done so. He believes the reason for this is, “they both want to play test cricket and in the next seven or eight years that’s probably not going to happen for Ireland”.
Not only is Joyce faced with the demands of international cricket, he captains Sussex County. This means that he has “duties not just on the pitch but off the pitch as well”. He admitted that striking the balance can be “a bit of a challenge”.
Joyce said: “I would like to be able to play all of those games and also play for Ireland but it’s not doable with the number of games that Ireland have.”
In less than two months Joyce will face his ex-England team during the RSA Challenge ODI between Ireland and England.
On July 3, Cricket Ireland officially launched the upcoming match at Lord’s Cricket Ground, the home of cricket as it is also known.
He was present alongside Ireland and Middlesex star Paul Stirling to promote this highly- anticipated game fixed for September 3 in Dublin.
It is set to be the biggest cricket match ever to be held in Ireland; between 10,000-12,000 Irish and England supporters are expected to attend.
The venue for this eagerly awaited contest is Malahide’s revamped international ground. Joyce recognised the wider importance of the upcoming contest, “these big one off games against the larger test nations like England are only showcased to really get new people into the game”.
Cricket in Ireland remains a niche sport, but when asked what the impact of this game would mean for the country Joyce said: “Playing against England in any sport, for Ireland, is a huge occasion.”
The upcoming ODI, therefore, is seen as a way to elevate the status of the sport, in a country where its popularity is dwarfed by Gaelic games, soccer and rugby.
Despite Ireland being an “aspiring test nation”, Joyce reflects on “the famous night in Bangalore in 2011 where Kevin O’Brien got his great 100” against England and believes that it is possible for Ireland to secure their “second big win” against his previous team, who are currently second in the ODI rankings.