Ireland wicketkeeper-batsman Neil Rock tests positive for COVID-19
Ireland wicketkeeper-batsman Neil Rock tests positive for COVID-19

Ireland wicketkeeper-batsman Neil Rock has tested positive for COVID-19. Neil Rock earned his maiden call-up to the Ireland squad for the upcoming T20I series against South Africa.

Following the development, Neil Rock has been placed in isolation while 22-year-old Stephen Doheny, who is also uncapped, has been called up as his replacement.

Neil Rock in action for Northern Knights Getty Images
Neil Rock in action for Northern Knights Getty Images

Ireland Wicketkeeper Batsman Neil Rock Tests Covid-19 Positive

In the 1st T20I, South Africa have rested keeper Quinton de Kock and pacer Anrich Nortje. Janneman Malan will be Aiden Markram’s opening partner and Kyle Verreynne will be donning the keeping gloves. Also, they have picked both their left-arm spinners.

Cricket Ireland confirmed the development and released an official statement which read:“Team management was informed of the positive result today, and Rock has been isolated from the squad as he awaits a follow-up test at the team hotel. Doheny, meanwhile, will undergo a COVID test this afternoon and – given a negative outcome – will join the squad tomorrow.”

Cricket Ireland
Cricket Ireland

The players and support staff who have come in contact with Neil Rock will have to undergo testing as per the protocols in place.

Mark Rausa, Head of Sport Science, Physiotherapy and Medical Services for Cricket Ireland, informed: “Due to our biosecurity measures and contact tracing, we are satisfied that we do not have any genuine close contact cases and this should therefore have minimal impact on the squad.

“However, out of an abundance of caution due to the proximity of the series start, we will test one player and one staff member who had confirmed they spent a short amount of time with Neil with correct COViD safe precautions in place. We expect them to test negative and re-join the squad tomorrow.”

Ireland will be battling against South Africa in the first of the three-match ODI series. This will be the first time the Irish team will play in a bilateral series against the Proteas. The visitors, under the leadership of Temba Bavuma, are coming into this tour on the back of thrashing Windies by 3-2. They won the T20I series there by 2-1.

Ireland, on the other hand, too would be looking to improve their tally of points in the ICC Super League as they have won only two of their nine matches so far.

Ireland Captain Andy Balbrinie: Proteas Will Be Firm Favourites But Ireland Has Match Winners In Team

South Africa’s tour of Ireland will begin with the first match of the ODI series in Dublin on Sunday. Speaking ahead of the series to the media, Ireland captain Andy Balbirnie admitted that the Proteas will be firm favourites. He, however, asserted that Ireland does have match-winners who can make a difference.

Balbirnie said: “A lot of people on the outside will look at this and say there’s only one team winning this series, and that’s fair enough because it’s a really impressive South Africa side. I don’t have to keep harping on about how good a team they are – I think everyone knows there is a big gulf in the teams.”

Andy Balbirnie
Andy Balbirnie Sportsfile/Getty Images.

Balbirnie added: “But we do have match-winners in our team. We showed that last year when we played England. We maybe haven’t got the results we’d want recently, but whenever we’re put in front of a really tough challenge, we tend to come out with something. The guys are going to go out and express themselves and hopefully can come out with a good result.”

The three-match ODI series between Ireland and South Africa will be followed by three T20Is, which will be played from July 20-25.

Andy Balbirnie has said there will be “no excuses” if his Ireland team fails to qualify for the 2023 World Cup, after a slow start to the Super League campaign which will determine whether or not they have to play in a separate qualifying tournament.

Ireland pulled off an upset by beating England in their third Super League game last summer, but have struggled for consistency since then, losing 3-0 to Afghanistan in the UAE and 2-1 against the Netherlands last month, putting a major dent in their chances of automatic qualification.


Ireland (Playing XI): Paul Stirling, William Porterfield, Andrew Balbirnie(c), Harry Tector, Mark Adair, George Dockrell, Lorcan Tucker(w), Andy McBrine, Simi Singh, Joshua Little, Craig Young

South Africa (Playing XI): Aiden Markram, Janneman Malan, Temba Bavuma(c), Rassie van der Dussen, Kyle Verreynne(w), David Miller, Andile Phehlukwayo, Keshav Maharaj, Kagiso Rabada, Tabraiz Shamsi, Lungi Ngidi

South Africa have won the toss and have opted to field.