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Last Updated: Tuesday, 20 March 2007, 18:18 GMT
Joyce hopes for Irish showdown
By Martin Gough
BBC Sport in St Lucia

Ed Joyce at the England team hotel
Joyce insists there is no question of divided loyalties

Ed Joyce says he has no regrets about deciding to turn his back on Ireland to play for England in the World Cup.

If England beat Kenya on Saturday they will progress to the Super 8 stage with Ireland, who upset Pakistan in Jamaica, potential opponents on 30 March.

"I've had some pretty good times playing for England so I wouldn't really change things.

"There are a couple of big games to go but it would be brilliant if we did play Ireland," said batsman Joyce.

"It would be great for the fans, having seen 2,000 Irish fans enjoying themselves."

Martin Gough - BBC Sport

Middlesex batsman Joyce helped Ireland qualify for this tournament, his 399 runs in five matches taking them to the final of the 2005 ICC Trophy for smaller nations.

He watched the second half of their three-wicket win over Pakistan on TV in the England team hotel in St Lucia on Saturday and swapped texts with some of his former team-mates.

"They got the best of the wicket really," he admitted after seeing Pakistan bowled out for 132 on a green wicket at Sabina Park.

"Coming into this tournament they could have been a bit over-awed so I was just glad they did well."

Joyce, who was born near Dublin, admits it felt strange to face Ireland on his international debut for England last June.

"It was slightly odd playing my first game but since then it's been great," said the opener, who hit a one-day century for England against Australia in Sydney last month.

He believes he will not be the last player to leave Ireland as his Middlesex team-mate Eoin Morgan and wicket-keeper Niall O'Brien, now of Northants, have both expressed a wish to represent England.

Ireland celebrate victory over Pakistan
Ireland are dreaming of a place in the Super 8 phase of the World Cup

"The aim to play for England has been taken out of context a bit," he explained.

"The aim is to play Test cricket. It's not a matter of changing loyalties, it's about playing at the highest level you can.

"I think it's an admirable thing to do. [When I did it] everyone in Irish cricket was very supportive."

Ireland will be certain of a place in the second round if Pakistan beat Zimbabwe on Wednesday.

Even if that does not happen and Ireland lose to West Indies on Friday, they would be even on points with Zimbabwe and could pip them on run rate.

For England, the task is more pressing after defeat to New Zealand. They need to beat Kenya to secure a meeting with the Irish in Guyana.

However, Joyce is confident, saying: "Kenya are a pretty good side. They're going to be a tough opponent but if we get everything right we've got too much for them."

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