Paul Stirling has been one of the best batsman to have played for Ireland. The Irish opener has had an arguably successful career in lesser opportunities compared to other countries. An aggressive batsman that he is, Stirling has always had the hunger to keep scoring runs across the formats he plays in.
He once again showed his capabilities as he smashed a 128-ball 142 that propelled Ireland to a record 329 run chase over England in the recently concluded third ODI.
Paul Stirling first broke into the scene as he made his First-class debut for Ireland in March 2008. He went on to make his ODI debut for Ireland in the same year against New Zealand in July. It was in July 2009 that Paul Stirling also scored his maiden First-class century. Representing Ireland at the 2010 U-19 World Cup, he emerged as their leading run-scorer with 209 runs from 5 games. In the very same year, young Stirling went on to record the highest ODI score for Ireland, smashing 177 against Canada in September. His score remains the highest individual ODI score by an Ireland batsman even today.
County Cricket has been a major part of Paul Stirling’s career. In December 2009, the 18 year-old signed a 3-year contract with the Middlesex County Cricket Club. Following this, Cricket Ireland awarded the youngster a full-time contract.
Post the 2011 World Cup, he also managed to find a place in Middlesex’s one day side. He showed his worth straight away in the 2011 season. Paul Stirling scored 535 runs from 12 matches. He was the leading run-scorer for Middlesex and 7th overall in the competition. Although Middlesex didn’t have a fruitful season, Stirling was successful with the bat.
Stirling has 2932 runs from 70 First-class games to go with 6 hundreds, 14 fifties and a high score of 146.
Paul Stirling has had success at the International level
The right-handed opener has shown promise throughout his career for Ireland.
He was one of the highlights for Ireland at the 2011 World Cup, which was otherwise a disappointing campaign for them. Stirling helped Ireland to chase down a daunting total of 307 against Netherlands. He scored 101 off just 70 deliveries, which was the then fourth fastest World Cup hundred.
Owing to his performances, Paul Stirling was also nominated for the Associate and Affiliate Player of the Year at the 2011 ICC Awards.
He was also a part of Ireland’s squad to play their first ever Test match in 2018 against Pakistan.
At the 2019 ICC T20 World Cup Qualifier Tournament in UAE, he was the leading run-scorer with 291 runs from 8 matches.
Stirling is now in the buzz yet again for his stunning match-winning display against England. He powered his way to a 128-ball 142, involved in a record 214 run partnership with skipper Andrew Balbirnie (113) in the process. This partnership set the foundation as Ireland recorded their highest successful runchase, scaling down 329 runs in the third ODI at Southampton.
The key to Ireland’s 2023 World Cup Qualification
Ireland will be pleased as they walked away with their maiden points following a consolation win in the final ODI of the series.
They have a long way to go as they face tough opponents in challenging conditions ahead. Ireland will have to perform well and get enough wins under their belt as they aim for direct qualification.
Paul Stirling has always been instrumental to their success providing them with solid starts upfront. After a disappointing first two games, Stirling came back to show his true potential in the final ODI.
If Ireland are looking at direct qualification, Stirling will have to keep up his good form and be consistent. The onus will be on his shoulders to lead Ireland’s batting going ahead.
Could Stirling have had a better career with another country?
Paul Stirling’s career has been promising as well as a successful one. However, it could be said that playing for Ireland has deprived him of more opportunities. Had he represented another country that plays more matches, he would definitely have had a much better career.
Stirling has played only 3 Tests so far scoring 104 runs. He has played 120 ODI’s and has 4277 runs, 78 T20I’s with 2124 runs. He is also one among the top 10 run scorers in T20I’s which speaks for his potential. In 206 List A games, he has as many as 7001 runs.
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