Ireland’s new generation ready to shine
The Irish side has undergone somewhat of a transformation since their appearance in last year’s T20 World Cup. After the tournament, veterans Cecelia and Isobel Joyce, Clare Shillington and Ciara Metcalfe all retired from the international game. Lucy O’Reilly, the side’s leading wicket-taker in the Caribbean, has also taken a temporary break from the game since the tournament.
Losing five important cricketers in such a short space of time would be a blow to any side but Delany is upbeat about Ireland’s chances in the T20 World Cup Qualifier. “This year we have a young squad, less experienced in comparison to other years, but I think that they bring a lot of energy and enthusiasm into the squad,” she said on the eve of the tournament.
“They (the younger players) have fitted in, they’ve slotted in, there’s probably more expected from the senior players, which is only natural and fair. As a group we’ve really gelled over the last six months and we’ve put in some really good performances, we just need to be as consistent as we can be.”
One aspect of the competition that may play into Ireland’s favour is the likely gloomy and windy conditions expected in Dundee during the tournament – conditions that the Irish players will be used to. “We’re quite used to the cold and the possibility of rain so it’s quite similar to what we’re used to playing in back home in Dublin. We were fortunate enough to play in Forfarshire yesterday, it looks like a really good deck.”
Ireland’s form going into the Qualifier is mixed. They recently finished third in a quadrangular series between themselves, Scotland, Thailand and the Netherlands, winning two of their five completed fixtures.
Ireland start their campaign against Namibia. The other two teams in their group are Netherlands and Thailand. Two sides from each group qualify for the semi-finals, with the winners of the semi-finals qualifying for the ICC T20 World Cup.