Dubai, Aug 20 (IANS) Ireland captain Andy Balbirnie has said that there is always pressure whether playing or captaining Ireland, especially in an ICC event. The T20 World Cup in Oman and UAE in October-November will be the 30-year-old’s first big event since taking over as the skipper of Ireland in white-ball formats since 2020.
“Whether you’re playing or captaining, there is always going to be pressure. Captaining — it’s the first time I’ll do it an ICC event so I’m very excited for it and excited to see how the guys adapt to it,” said Balbirnie in an interaction with ICC.
“Pride as well, it’s not every day you get to lead your team into a World Cup. We’ve got a lot of cricket to play beforehand but I think once we’re on the plane on the way out it will certainly sink in that we’re getting to do something very special,” added Balbirnie.
Balbirnie made his international debut in 2010, shortly after captaining Ireland in the U-19 World Cup. But it was only from the 2015 Cricket World Cup onwards that he established himself in the senior team.
He featured in all six matches of Ireland’s campaign in the World Cup, scoring 236 runs with two half-centuries at an average of 39.33.
“The 2015 World Cup was probably the first time I got into the Irish team as a permanent fixture. Going to a place like Australia and having family and friends there was probably still the highlight of my career or one of the highlights.”
He feels that the youngsters in the current group will enjoy the experience of being in the T20 World Cup.
“To be able to go to another T20 World Cup, albeit a delayed World Cup, is very exciting for the group. There are a lot of players who haven’t experienced that, so I know that they’re excited. Hopefully, we can produce some pretty good cricket and first and foremost get out of our group.”
Ireland is placed in a strong group in the First Round, alongside 2014 champions Sri Lanka, the Netherlands and Namibia. Two teams from both groups will progress to the Super 12 stage.
Balbirnie recognises Ireland will have to put their best foot forward in every match. But he is excited for the match against the Netherlands, who defeated them 2-1 in ODIs in June.
“From a neutral (perspective) the Dutch game is a big one. We play them a lot. They just recently beat us in a 50-over series and they’re a team we know pretty well. Of course, Sri Lanka are probably going to go in as favourites but we have got to put in good performances against all three teams and we’re going to have be at our best to get out of that group.”
“In my opinion it’s probably the tougher group but hopefully our guys can rise to the occasion and get out of the group. I think the Netherlands is a game we’re certainly going to target as potentially the biggest game for us in that group,” concluded Balbirnie.
Ireland will open their campaign against the Netherlands on October 18 in Abu Dhabi.