Making their fourth appearance in the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup, Ireland would like to make their mark in the eighth edition of the tournament.
In her exclusive column for the ICC, Ireland captain Laura Delany believed that this was the first time that Ireland entered a T20 World Cup with a number of “established” players in their ranks.
“I firmly believe that this is the first ICC Women's T20 World Cup tournament where we have numerous players who have established themselves in the women’s cricket landscape,” Delany said.
The skipper went on to name some important contributors for Ireland in recent times, the list comprising young guns along with old hands.
“Gaby Lewis played in The Hundred for the second year in a row, she has 113 caps and is still only 21, and after making global headlines with her record-breaking century in 2021, Amy Hunter has added a great deal more consistency and self-belief,” said Delany. “Even though she is still only 17, she is really coming to grips with her game and knows where she wants to take it.
“In the last 12 months, Orla Prendergast and Arlene Kelly have been match-winners for us. Both players have the ability to win us games or change the course of a contest. We also cannot discount the experience and the skills of Eimear Richardson and Mary Waldron – they may be two of our most senior players, but they both seem to be getting better the longer they play.”
Delany believed that her side had the depth to compete at the highest level, citing the recent Pakistan success as an example.
“I could go on, that is what is so exciting about our squad – every player has made the squad on merit and every player has the skills and talent to compete at this level. We have a young squad with an average age of 24, but it is a squad that has grown in confidence and character over the last few years.
“Nothing exemplifies this more than when we travelled to Pakistan late last year. After losing the ODI series, we bounced back to claim the T20I series at the end of a tough tour.
“Our squad has the ability to change based on the opponent, the conditions or the state of the match, and while in years gone by, we perhaps lacked depth, that is now changing and we have a good pool of players to call upon.”
With plenty of T20I exposure at their back, Ireland are quite familiar with the vagaries of the challenging format, and will look to their skills and team ethic to deliver in South Africa.
“Without doubt, T20Is are the growth engine of the modern game, and we have played a lot of them over the last few years,” added Delany. “The shorter format of the game can be unpredictable at times, and on a given day, any player can really make a substantial impact on a team’s performance or can change a game’s direction
“As captain, T20I cricket is a real test of mental strength, intuition and judgement. You need to be able to respond quickly as every ball is a contest, that’s what is fascinating and challenging about the format. In tournament conditions, that unpredictability can see results that do not follow the supposed form book. The last 12 months have been a great period of development and progress for our squad, with wins over South Africa, Zimbabwe and Pakistan to name a few.
“We might be a young squad, but we are confident in our skills and have a strong team ethic, and we are certainly heading to South Africa with the intent to win games. We have some tough games against some of the world’s best sides, but if we stick to our processes and game plans, then we have every chance of winning games.”