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Sunday, October 1, 2023

Ireland motivated for England series despite World Cup absence – The Irish Times

1st ODI: England v Ireland, Headingley, Wednesday, 12.30pm – Live on Sky Sports

Ireland will be watching next month’s Cricket World Cup from home but interim captain Paul Stirling insists there is no lack of motivation for their series against England, which gets under way at Headingley on Wednesday.

Ireland missed out on a place at the tournament after crashing out of this summer’s qualifier in Zimbabwe, where Sri Lanka and Netherlands emerged to take their place in the final 10.

For a side who have prided themselves on punching above their weight on the global stage that was a bitter setback, and one they cannot put right until an expanded event comes around in 2027.

But Stirling, who inherited the reins on a temporary basis from predecessor Andrew Balbirnie following that disappointment, insists there is still plenty to play for in the three-match series.

“It’s never too hard to pick yourself up and play for your country, everyone is really looking forward to it,” he said. “Any series we play against a top-tier side we should be looking at getting a scalp, that’s a realistic ambition – to come away and get a win and definitely to compete in all areas.

“The squad are really buzzing to get out there and show what they are capable of. We’re at a very different stage of our process, leading to the following World Cup, so it’s very early stages but we’re just looking forward to playing England on their own turf.

“There’s not too much pressure on now, but we certainly want to get in the right place at the right time.”

The imminent arrival of ODI cricket’s biggest showpiece event has placed the format back into centre stage, perhaps for the first time since the previous competition in 2019.

In the four years since then, T20 has continued to grow into new areas and generate even bigger pay-days, leading to growing questions about the status of the longer game.

But for Stirling, proud owner 154 caps and 14 hundreds in the format, there is only one answer.

“I really love 50-over cricket, my favourite format,” he said. “It’s been in the background the last couple of years – where is 50-over cricket going to go? But I think it’s class. You get the ebbs and flows right through the day.

“Ideally you’d like more teams at the World Cup but there is 14 in the next one and we really need to make sure we are one of them. That’s our ambition and that’s the goal over the next four years.

“We’re only at the start of that but as far as ODI cricket is concerned, long may it live.”

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