Murray six-wicket haul kicks off Ireland Women’s 2024

Bigger challenges await in T20 but things got started just right during the ODI series in Zimbabwe.

Cara Murray celebrating a six-wicket haul for Ireland

There was lots to talk about in captain Laura Delany’s press conference before the Zimbabwe tour. The Scotland series at the end of last year, previous success in Zimbabwe. Personal milestones awaiting Laura, and how the landscape had changed during her career.

But everything invariably came back to a single strand: the T20 World Cup at the end of the year and getting through the Qualifier.

Or perhaps it was all Delany’s laser focus, and we all couldn’t help seeing the same vision. What is it exactly? Making a televised world event: “For us it would be a massive achievement to get to the World Cup but it’s a bigger stage for then people to watch cricket particularly here in Ireland”.

That brings responsibility, even burden. And easier said than done when you’ve tournament qualifiers ahead of you in April and May.

ICC Qualifiers can be brutal. Ask anyone who’s played in them. Each match becomes a cup game.

But Ireland have visions to hold onto. Like beating that Australian team albeit in a tournament warm up. “That gave us a huge amount of confidence” beams Laura. And of course qualifying before.

As Ireland women’s most capped international Laura has seen the sport change quite a bit in Ireland. Ups and downs. Maybe that’s where you get that singular focus from.

So it’s the wrong format, but this ODI series right before the T20 leg was always crucial. Start the year right, build and keep building.

2-0 was almost just that. Frustratingly close. A tense thriller in the second match resulting in a tied game proved the only dampener. But it’ll live on as a classic.

A 10-wicket win in the first game definitely got things going. Then winning the last by 81 runs thanks to 6 for 31 ripped out by Waringstown leg spinner Cara Murray certainly got things back on track.

Gaby Lewis in action. (Zimbabwe Cricket)

The vision remains. Laura Delany has her goals and what she expects from her young side.

But the group delivered what they needed to start 2024 just right.

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