Once the giant-killers at ICC events, Ireland are now approaching the T20 World Cup in Oman and UAE as one of the weakest full-member nations.
Ireland’s white-ball team has been on an unarrested decline. Since the start of the 2016 T20 World Cup, where they ended winless in their preliminary group, Ireland have clinched victories in just 21 of their 59 T20Is and only 1 of those wins have been against a top 8 nation.
The Irishmen are part of Group A of the preliminary round in this year’s T20 World Cup and will be taking on the Netherlands (October 18), Sri Lanka (Oct 20) in Abu Dhabi and Namibia (Oct 22) in Sharjah.
Only two Super 12 slots are available from Group A where Netherlands or Namibia look the more likely next round entrants alongside group favourites Sri Lanka.
Captain: Andy Bilbirnie
Head coach: Graham Ford
Claim To Fame: Super 8 (2009)
Ireland Squad for ICC T20 World Cup 2021
Andy Balbirnie (c), Mark Adair, Curtis Campher, Gareth Delany, George Dockrell, Shane Getkate, Graham Kennedy, Josh Little, Andrew McBrine, Barry McCarthy, Kevin O’Brien, Neil Rock, Simi Singh, Paul Stirling, Harry Tector, Lorcan Tucker, Ben White, Craig Young
Reserves: Shane Getkate, Graham Kennedy, Barry McCarthy
Strengths: Ireland’s one notable strength is their top-order batting where opener Stirling, experienced all-rounder O’Brien and skipper Balbirnie will have to do the bulk of the scoring. Stirling’s aggression at the top and Balbirnie’s anchoring duties are very important for Ireland to be competitive.
Area of Concern: There are plenty actually. Ireland have a promising but unsettled middle-order with the likes of Dockrell, Tector, Getkate set to be targetted by spin in those conditions. Their overall powerhitting game pales in comparison to fellow Group A rivals and while their bowling can be greater than the sum of its parts in helpful conditions, they lack the penetration and defensive skills to hold their own when surfaces are flat.
Key Ireland Players for T20 World Cup 2021
1. Paul Stirling
Stirling has been Ireland’s most consistent and explosive batter since the end of the previous edition of the T20 World Cup. In this five-year span, the aggressive right-hander is averaging 35.59 with a strike-rate of 141.44 for 1,744 runs. Stirling is one of Ireland’s only two T20I centurion in this period and has made the most half-centuries (14) for them.
2. Andy Balbirnie
Captain Balbirnie will have to shine if Ireland are to have any chance of making it through to the Super 12s. Balbirnie has been one of Ireland’s better white-ball performers, with 1,025 runs at a strike-rate of 130.73 since the end of the 2016 T20 World Cup. The captain will have to show the way, especially against Sri Lanka, which will be waiting to form a web around Irish batters with their multiple incisive spinners.
3. Kevin O’Brien
At his best, O’Brien can blast an opposition with the bat and back his batting exploits with useful overs of medium fast-bowling. The experienced all-rounder is renowned for playing his most impressive knocks when the stakes are high. Since the start of 2018, O’Brien has had a strike-rate of 140.80 while averaging 26.21. His average to strike-rate ratio is second best to only Stirling among the Irish batters in this period.
Probable Ireland Playing XI for T20 World Cup 2021
Paul Stirling, Gareth Delany, Andy Balbirnie (C), Kevin O’Brien, Harry Tector, Curtis Campher, George Dockrell, Simi Singh, Neil Rock (wk), Joshua Little, Craig Young