New Ireland captain Balbirnie confident ahead of WI series | Daily News


 

New Ireland captain Balbirnie confident ahead of WI series

Balbirnie was named Ireland captain of all formats in November 2019
Balbirnie was named Ireland captain of all formats in November 2019

Andy Balbirnie, Ireland’s new captain, is ready for the responsibility and is confident of his side’s preparations ahead of their limited-overs series against West Indies.

Balbirnie, who’s made 64 ODI and 37 T20I appearances, said he’s looking forward to leading Ireland, but his main focus would be on team rather than personal performance.

“I’m feeling pretty good about the first game. It will be a different experience for me captaining the side, but one I’m really looking forward to,” he said. “I’ve got family out here who are obviously very proud of me captaining the side, but when it comes down to it, it’s all about the team and the performance we put in on the field. That’s my focus, and I know that is the clear focus of the squad.”

The 29-year-old said his side are looking to use the practice games on their Caribbean tour to fine-tune preparation ahead of the first ODI on January 7.

“Our preparations have been great out here, we’ve been based at St Catherine’s cricket ground and they’ve produced some good wickets for us to train on,” he said.

“Since we’ve returned from the [T20 World Cup] Qualifiers we’ve only had the chance to work indoors back home, but the lads have worked hard over the break and worked even harder since they’ve got out here to the Caribbean. We have a couple of practice games before the first ODI, so we’ll be able to fine-tune a few things before we go into the series.”

Balbirnie made an impressive 124-ball 135 in a tri-nation series match against West Indies at home last May, helping Ireland to a competitive 327/5, which Jason Holder’s men chased down courtesy Sunil Ambris’ blistering 148. The Ireland captain said that defeat in Malahide was a lesson for the team.

“When you get runs but lose the game it’s a bit disappointing – it almost feels like you didn’t get the runs. But it was an important game for the lads. As a team, we learned that we can score big scores against the top teams.

“It gave us a lot of confidence with the bat, but the takeaway was finding that balance between bowling to restrict runs, and attacking to take wickets. If we can find that balance during this series we’ll be very competitive and in a better place as a whole.”

HOLDER RESTED FOR FIRST TWO ODIs

West Indies Test captain Jason Holder has been rested from the first two games of their three-match series against Ireland.

The all-rounder is the one player to miss out from West Indies’ last ODI assignment, a 2-1 series defeat away to India.

“The decision was taken to rest Jason due to the heavy workload he has had over the last year,” said Roger Harper, West Indies’ selector.

“With an important year ahead for West Indies cricket, we saw this as the best opportunity to give him a break to recharge his batteries and refresh his mind so he could be ready to perform at his best as our Test captain throughout 2020, as the number one ranked all-rounder in Test cricket and an important member of the team in the white ball formats.

“The Afghanistan and Indian series told me that the team is making very positive strides. Winning the ODIs against Afghanistan, our first ODI series win for five years, followed by the very competitive performance in against India is testament to that. The team demonstrated a determination to compete and gave it every effort.

Against India the batting was consistent and while the bowling had its moments, it is clear that we have to improve our ‘death’ bowling. However, the fact that the team played in such an organised and competitive manner consistently augurs well going forward.

“This series against Ireland offers us the opportunity to build on the performances in India, build confidence as a team and for individual players. Just like the series against Afghanistan, the Ireland series is an important one for us, one we must win.”

SQUAD: Kieron Pollard (c), Sunil Ambris, Roston Chase, Sheldon Cottrell, Shimron Hetmyer, Shai Hope, Alzarri Joseph, Brandon King, Evin Lewis, Keemo Paul, Khary Pierre, Nicholas Pooran, Romario Shepherd, Hayden Walsh jr.


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