World T20 2023 Preview: Ireland

Can the Batting Match the Bowling?

There is so much to like about the quality and variety of the Ireland bowling, but can the batters step and make this a truly great team?

Captain Laura Delany‘s biggest headache is just which bowlers to select in the team and which ones miss out. With the recent loss of batter Rebecca Stokell, the situation isn’t as bountiful with the batting line-up.



Ireland is in Pool B along with England, India, Pakistan and West Indies. Needing three wins to guarantee a spot in the semi finals – something Ireland has never achieved – the team will need every bit of that bowling strength, and the batters to step up, in order to cross the line.

Surprisingly they’ve only played neighbours England once in a T20 Internationals. When they face off for their first match on Feb 13 it will be Ireland’s 99th T20 International. If they do not beat England first up they will need to win their next three.

Next opponent is Pakistan who they defeated (away) in November, so should feel some confidence going into that match, and likewise West Indies who are struggling at the moment. If we take those two as wins there is just one more hurdle: can they spring a surprise on tournament favourites India?

Key Players

As mentioned the bowling attack, particularly the pace department, has much to shout about. There is raw pace in Georgina Dempsey, fresh from her stint in the U19 World Cup. Like a couple of Ireland’s players there is match fitness from that recent tournament.

Steady as a rock is Arlene Kelly a bankable miser with her medium pace, improving with every outing. The very dependable Jane Maguire is in a similar vein, but I doubt Ireland will play both.

Orla Prendergast bowls excellent in-swing. If she’s on song can be a real handful and is a big game player. She could turn things Ireland’s way against England and India – mind you, she may do that with the bat as well, such is her pedigree as an allrounder.

With spin you have a lovely blend of youth and experience, leg-break and off-break. Cara Murray improves with each season, her leg-breaks the perfect foil for the seasoned warrior, Eimear Richardson. Skipper Laura Delany adds to this group giving a trio of spin options.

Four quality pacers, three good spinners. They can’t all play. It’s nice headache to have.

The loss of Rebecca Stokell does leave a bit of a hole in the batting and one suspects that gap will be filled by an allrounder. At the top of the order will be Gaby Lewis, a seasoned campaigner and Ireland’s leading run scorer in the format. Leah Paul opens in ODI format – will she jump in to the fray here?

Amy Hunter is another fresh from the U19 World Cup – perhaps the young star is a candidate to open, but Ireland may opt to keep her at number three. Either way Amy will feature in the top order. Laura Delany will slot in at four and there after is the problem with the batting. There are some top allrounders, to be sure, in Dempsey, Prendergast, Richardson but it does slip away markedly after the top four. Of course that won’t matter if the top four perform.

Mary Waldron will don the gloves behind the stumps in what is probably her swan song having performed the role since 2010. Back up keeper Shauna Kavanagh is a worth replacement should an injury arise.

Dropped catches plagued the team on their recent tour of Pakistan and this was out of character. It will be an area Ireland will want to sharpen up on because fielding will be a key dynamic at this World Cup. Catches win matches.

The Challenge

They’ll need to forget about the two heavyweights in their pool and simply concentrate on getting the basics right. If they do that then this Ireland team could quite easily cause a stir in Pool B. To give themselves a chance they must score back to back wins against Pakistan and West Indies. If they don’t their campaign will be in peril.

Ireland have the bowlers. Can the batters match them?

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