Ireland head into next weeks’ tri-series against Scotland and the Netherlands buoyed by the recent news of Paul Stirling signing a deal with Cricket Ireland, putting an end to his long, illustrious career with Middlesex. The tri-series will provide Ireland with crucial practice ahead of the World T20 Qualifiers which are set to take place in the UAE next month. The tri-series, which was hastily put together by the three boards off the back of the late cancellation of the Euro T20 Slam, will feature each team playing the others twice, with all games taking place in Malahide CC starting with Ireland v Netherlands this Sunday at 1:30pm. Ireland will then fly out to Oman where they’ll take part in a five team tournament comprising of Oman, Netherlands, Hong Kong and Nepal. These warm-up events will provide Ireland with much needed exposure to the T20 format as well as helping to familiarise them with local conditions ahead of the crucial World Cup Qualifiers next month, where Ireland will aim to be one of the six sides to qualify for the T20 World Cup next October in Australia.
Ireland enter this period in high spirits, coming off the back of a positive summer, where several new faces made huge strides in the international arena, most notably Mark Adair and James McCollum, who were instrumental in Ireland’s creditable performance against England in their one-off test in July. Other youngsters such as Gareth Delany and Lorcan Tucker have made big impacts in the shortest format, as part of the Irish management’s ongoing attempt to rejuvenate what was seen as an ageing Irish team that had lost its way in T20 cricket. Less than a year ago, Ireland fell to the bottom of the T20 World rankings having experienced some shock defeats against Hong Kong and Oman, which prompted Cricket Ireland to turn their attention away from many of the experienced players who had brought Ireland to where they are today, in favour of the next generation of players, who are better suited to the shortest format, where power and pace are essential. This poses the dawning question: could Ireland’s upcoming cricket squad be a success waiting to happen?
Rian Cassidy – Sports Writer