With the T20 World Cup almost upon us, Emerging Cricket explores the challenges that each of the six teams will need to overcome in order to succeed.
1. Will Ireland’s young guns step up under pressure?
Much has been made of Ireland’s ‘transitional phase’. Over the past 3 years several of their former stars have retired and made way for younger talent. It has meant that Ireland have debuted many players since their promotion to full membership. As such, Ireland are yet to make the on-field step up that many expected. Having narrowly missed out on the 2019 ODI World Cup, the upcoming T20 World Cup will be Ireland’s first since attaining full membership. Along with it will come increased scrutiny and an expectation that their performance will match their membership status.
But Ireland’s stars of previous campaigns aren’t getting any younger. Four of their key performers – Kevin O’Brien, Paul Stirling, Andrew Balbirnie and Craig Young – have all crossed 30, and can’t be relied upon to win games forever.
Ireland need their next generation to step up. Among them are plenty of potential match winners – Gareth Delany, Harry Tector, Mark Adair, and Josh Little have all impressed – but none have done so with the consistency required to win games frequently.
With the eyes of the world watching, Ireland’s next generation need to showcase case their skills, both for themselves and their team. Will they prove worthy heirs to Ireland’s ‘Golden Generation’?