Ireland will be featuring in their 6th appearance in the T20 World Cup. This will be their 9th appearance in an ICC event. Ireland have previously played T20 World Cups in 2009, 2010, 2012, 2014 and 2016. Ireland have developed a reputation of being the giant killers and will hope to justify the tag again. On that note, let us have a look at the Ireland team’s past present and also analyze their chances at the big event.
Ireland’s best moment in their cricket came in the 2011 World Cup. They chased down 329 to beat England courtesy of Kevin O’Brien’s epic knock. Talking of T20Is, Ireland’s best moment would be defeating Bangladesh at the T20 World Cup 2009. This victory also helped them to qualify for the Super 8s. Furthermore, it was the only time in the T20 World Cup that Ireland qualified for the 2nd round.
Besides that match, in the T20Is, Ireland have also beaten West Indies twice. Their first success came in 2014 while the second one was in 2020. Moreover, both victories were registered at the home of the West Indies. Ireland also did the unique treble in 2013 by winning WCL Championship, T20 World Cup qualifier and Intercontinental Cup. Thus becoming the only associate team to do the unique treble in the same year.
While Ireland has had many near misses in bilateral ODIs and T20Is. But if we consider only the T20 World Cup then coming close to beating Sri Lanka in the 2009 T20 World Cup at the Super 8 stage stands out. Ireland bowlers did a splendid job restricting Sri Lanka to 144/9. But their batsmen could manage only 135/7, eventually losing by 9 runs.
Another near miss came at the 2014 T20 World Cup. Ireland were looking all set to reach the Super 10 stage. They had won two in two and had struck 189/4 against the Netherlands in their final Stage 1 encounter. Dutch needed to win in 14 overs to qualify and knock Irish out. However, the unthinkable did happen as the Netherlands chased it down in 13.4 overs. With this miraculous effort, the Netherlands qualified for the Super 10 stage.
Ireland has an excellent record over West Indies, although most of their wins have come in unofficial matches. Ireland bowled out West Indies for just 25 runs in 1969. They also beat the West Indies in an unofficial ODI in 2004 where they chased down 290. At the Associate level, Ireland have won the Intercontinental Cup record 4 times. In addition to that, they have also won the T20 World cup qualifier 3 times, both the ODI World Cup qualifier and WCL Championship once.
Recently, Ireland beat South Africa in an ODI in the CWC Superleague. As a result of that win, they tied the series 1-1. However, the Irish side lost to Netherlands 2-1 in the CWC super league.
Ireland has been mostly an enigmatic team. While they have triumphed over the best teams on their day but have also suffered losses to mid-ranked Associates when it hasn’t been their day. In the last 15 months, Ireland have beaten England and South Africa in an ODI each. But they also lost to UAE in an ODI. Then in this week itself, Ireland were defeated 1-2 by UAE in the recently concluded T20I series. But after that, they beat Bangladesh in the warmup match. So it becomes really tough to predict anything about the newly promoted Full member.
Ireland are placed in Group A in the qualifying round with Sri Lanka, Netherlands & Namibia.
Being a full member, they would always be expected to beat the associates. Their chances depend a lot on their swashbuckling opening batsman Paul Stirling. Stirling is undoubtedly their best batsman and if he fires then we might also witness the Irish side creating a few upsets. Apart from Stirling, players like Josh Little, Curtis Campher and Simi Singh will also be expected to produce impactful performances.
Players to watch out for:
Paul Stirling: Undoubtedly, the best Irish batsman in recent times, Paul Stirling will be key to his team’s chances. The attacking opening batsman has succeeded in the UAE conditions. Stirling has also played in LPL and PSL in recent years. In addition to that, he is also a consistent performer in county cricket.
The 31-year-old whacked 142 off 128 balls against England in the CWC Super League last year. This knock helped Ireland register another famous ODI win over England. Interestingly, Stirling has a unique record to his name of having both the highest score and the best bowling figures for his country in ODI cricket. Overall, Paul Stirling has scored 4982 runs in ODIs at an average of 38.92 and strike rate of 86.07. While in the T20Is, he has scored and 2495 runs at an average of 30.8 and a strike rate of 137.16
Curtis Campher: South African born all-rounder qualified for Ireland through his mother’s side. Campher impressed straight away by hitting 2 half-centuries in his 1st 2 ODIs against England. Although Campher has played only 12 T20 matches, it’s his strike rate of 157.14 which indicates his capability. Furthermore, the 22-year-old is also a handy medium pacer.
Joshua Little: Little has picked up 27 wickets in 18 ODIs and 38 wickets in 41 T20 matches. The left-arm pacer is clearly the fastest Irish pacer. He can generate a pace of over 140 kph. Although his T20i career economy of 8.14 might not look impressive, his performance in recent times clearly shows that the 21-year-old has come a long way. The youngster has conceded runs at an economy rate of 6.26 in the 7 T20Is he has played in 2021. Besides that, he also been excellent in Odis this year. In 2021, Little has taken 16 wickets in 9 Odis at an average of 19.68.
And given that the T20 World Cup will be in Asia, Simi Singh can also play a key role. The Indian origin spin bowling all-rounder will certainly be useful on the slow pitches in UAE.
Andrew Balbirnie (c) (RHB)
Paul Stirling (RHB, OB)
Harry Tector (RHB)
Neil Rock (LHB)
Lorcan Tucker (RHB)
Curtis Campher (RHB, RMF)
Gareth Delany (RHB, LB)
George Dockrell (RHB, SLA)
Kevin O’Brien (RHB, RMF)
Simi Singh (RHB, OB)
Andrew McBrine (LHB, OB)
Ben White (RHB, LB)
Mark Adair (RHB, RM)
Josh Little (RHB, LFM)
Craig Young (RHB, RFM)
Shane Getkate (RHB, RMF)
Graham Kennedy (LHB, SLA)
Barry McCarthy (RHB, RFM)