Ireland v Pakistan

Joyce poised to take Aussie's record

Veteran batsman to prove age is just a number in Ireland's inaugural Test from Friday

Martin Smith

9 May 2018, 06:30 PM AEST

Opener Ed Joyce is set to become the oldest Test debutant this century in Ireland's historic first Test against Pakistan this week.

At 39 years and 231 days, Joyce will become the oldest Test debutant since South Africa's Omar Henry (40 years, 295 days) in 1992 and the oldest this century ahead of Australia's Bryce McGain, who debuted in 2009 at the age of 36.

The left-hander, who made his first-class debut 21 years ago, is finally poised to win his maiden Test cap after his switch of allegiances to England in 2001 failed to yield a Test debut.

Having played 77 white-ball matches for Ireland since returning to the country of his birth in 2011, Joyce will finally get a chance in the five-day game after Ireland were granted Test status last year.

"It'll be an incredible feeling," he told the BBC. "I don't really have that long left playing ... so to finally get a Test match will be fantastic.

"I never thought I'd play a Test for Ireland, that's for sure.

"(My career with England) ended in 2007 and I didn't play again. That was 11 years ago and Ireland were nowhere near the Test status that we have now.

"So to get to the point where there's a Test match on the horizon, it's a 'pinch me' moment."

Born in Dublin, Joyce decided in 2001 to qualify for England through his residency there and as a strong performer in county cricket, made his ODI debut for his adopted country four years later - ironically against Ireland, who picked his brother Dominick in their side.

Joyce was added to England's 2006-07 Ashes squad and while he didn't play a Test, he scored an ODI century against Australia in Sydney and played five matches for them at the 2007 World Cup.

But he fell off the radar of England's selectors after their horror showing at that tournament and his next ODI was for Ireland, at the 2011 World Cup four years later.

In announcing his decision to turn his back on England in 2010, a frustrated Joyce said he was determined to help develop international cricket in his homeland.

"While I strongly believe I'm good enough to play Test cricket for England, I've taken the decision now to try and play for Ireland again," he said at the time. 

"I feel I'm playing the best cricket of my career and would like to bring this form with me to help Ireland be even more successful on the world stage."

As well as being one of Ireland's best players over the past decade, Joyce has also continued to perform strong for English county side Sussex in first-class cricket. England selector Angus Fraser even suggested in 2014 that, if Joyce were still eligible, he would have been in strong contention to open alongside Alastair Cook in England's Test side.

While acknowledging the significance of the Test against Pakistan in Dublin, starting on Friday, Joyce has called on his countrymen to go further.

"It's an incredible achievement, but I think it's got to the point now where we need to push on and not just say we've had a good achievement getting to this point.

"It's about maintaining the team and getting some new guys in and some good performances going forward."