Cricket Ireland have announced 29-year-old opening batsman Paul Stirling as their new vice-captain, a decision over which captain Andrew Balbirnie said he had no hesitation.
Stirling is an Irish stalwart, having made his debut for the national side back in March 2008 in an ICC Inter-Continental Cup match against Afghanistan. He has gone on to play 117 ODIs and 78 T20Is, as well as having played in all three of Ireland's Tests to date.
Balbirnie, who was appointed as captain of the side in November 2019 after William Porterfield vacated the role, explained why he felt Stirling was the perfect man to be his deputy.
"I’ve known Paul since I was about 12 years old when we first played against each other in inter-provincial cricket – we’ve grown up together in our careers as such," the captain said in a press statement. "We both went to Middlesex at the same time and lived together over in London, so he’s someone I consider a very close mate but also a very valuable person to have in our side from a knowledge point of view. So I didn’t really hesitate when I was thinking about who could be my vice-captain – he stuck out to me straight away."
The idea of vice-captaincy was put to Stirling during Ireland's tour of the West Indies in January 2020, Balbirnie's first assignment as captain.
"I first mentioned the idea to him in the Caribbean and he said he’d love to do it," Balbirnie revealed. "He's someone that I've always sought advice from when thinking about my batting, so to have him as my right-hand man over the next few years is really exciting and one I’m sure he's excited for as well."
Stirling echoed his skipper's words, asserting how well the pair know each other having played with and against one another since they were children.
"It was fitting to get a call from Bal [Balbirnie] to ask me to be his vice-captain," the new vice-captain said. "We’ve played together all the way up from when we were kids so I look forward to helping him shape the way this Irish side moves forward in the coming months and years ahead.”
"He’s had an excellent start to his captaincy with wins in the Caribbean and the sub-continent, but there is so much on your plate as captain – especially with a younger team than we’ve had in the past – so I am happy just to be a sounding board to bounce ideas off and help implement any changes in the way Bal wants to take this team forward on and off the field."
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