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Last Updated: Tuesday, 17 May, 2005, 08:22 GMT 09:22 UK
Joyce ready to seize his chance
By James Standley

Ed Joyce on the pull against Hampshire, the match in which he impressed Shane Warne
Joyce is averaging well over 80 in first-class cricket this season

Have you heard the one about the Irishman who wants to play cricket for England?

Well Shane Warne doesn't think it's a joke - he has just announced that Middlesex's Dublin-born Ed Joyce is the player who has most impressed him this season.

Joyce, who qualifies to play for England on 1 July, was understandably delighted, if not a little surprised, to read the views of the leading Test-wicket taker of all time over a mid-morning cup of coffee.

"It's incredibly flattering, seeing as he had a few words to say to me during the game!" Joyce told BBC Sport.

Not that the Irishman is keen to reignite the early-season sledging furore involving Warne and Sussex captain Chris Adams.

"It was more funny than anything else - he (Warne) has a few amusing words for most people who bat against him," insisted the Middlesex man.

"But yes, it's very flattering and very nice to see that kind of thing written about you."

Joyce, a compact left-hander, has been making an eloquent case for England selection, having scored 605 runs at 86.42 this season.

"You sort of dream of these things," he said.

"Before the start of the season you always wonder and think 'I might get nought in every innings', but then you get 192 in the first game.

I'll just keep trying to score as many runs as I can and maybe the selectors will have a look
England hopeful Ed Joyce

"It was a fantastic way to start and the good thing about that is that the last 90 of it was very fluent because I had to try and score some runs with the lower order.

"Then to read what Warne said as well is fantastic - it's been a big season for me."

Two Republic of Ireland-born players - Leland Hone and Timmy O'Brien - represented England in the 19th century.

But if Joyce does get to play for England he will be only the second Irishman in the modern era to have worn the Three Lions on his chest, and will hope to fare better than erratic former Kent paceman Martin McCague.

Before he can think of playing for England, Joyce has the little matter of representing Ireland in the ICC Trophy from 1-7 July.

The top five teams will reach the 2007 World Cup and Joyce, who expects it will be the last time he plays for Ireland, is determined to help them reach the West Indies.

"I'm dreaming of playing for England but Ireland is my home country and to help them get through to the World Cup would be fantastic for the sport in Ireland," said Joyce.

Dublin-born Ed Joyce becomes eligible for England on 1 July
Of the players I've come across this season I'd say that Ed Joyce has most impressed me so far - He looked very calm at the crease and seemed to be in control of his game
Shane Warne on Ed Joyce

"A lot of my good friends play for Ireland and I haven't played with them for a long time.

"To help them hopefully get to the West Indies in 2007 is the motivation for me to play for them, but I think this will probably be the last time I play for Ireland."

Once the ICC Trophy is finished Joyce will turn his focus back to playing for Middlesex, and in the longer term to trying to make it into the England team, an ambition he has held since moving from Ireland six years ago.

"When I was younger I never dreamt it would be possible to play Test cricket for England," he said.

"Growing up in Ireland the limit of my aspiration was to play for Ireland and one day maybe play in a World Cup.

"My aspirations were never really to play Test cricket for England until I came to play county cricket for a few seasons and the possibility came up that I could qualify.

"Even then you have to get in ahead of serious cricketers so I'll just keep trying to score as many runs as I can and maybe the selectors will have a look."

One person who has been having a look is Warne and he is definitely impressed.

If Joyce can maintain his rich vein of form then the man from the cricketing backwaters of Dublin may soon be strutting his stuff on the Test stage.

Joyce ton revives Middlesex hopes
22 Apr 05 |  Counties

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