T20 WC: Team management encourages taking positive options; inject confidence in players, says Stirling

Ireland opener Paul Stirling has lauded the team management led by head coach Heinrich Malan for encouraging the players to take positive options of playing the game and in turn, inject confidence within them ahead of their opening match in the men’s T20 World Cup on Monday.

After being unable to qualify for Super 12 stage in last year’s T20 World Cup in the UAE, Ireland will be eyeing to qualify from the first round in a tough Group B alongside two-time champions West Indies, Scotland and Zimbabwe.

Ireland have played lots of matches at home against India, New Zealand, South Africa and Afghanistan, with a refreshing approach since Malan took over as head coach of the side earlier this year though they didn’t get much results their way.

“Clarity of role is something important that Heinrich (Malan) has focused on, and to have a management team behind you that really encourages taking the positive option has certainly injected that confidence in the playing group,” said Stirling after the side landed in Hobart on Friday.

Stirling, 32, made his international debut in 2008 against New Zealand in a one-day international, then made his T20I debut against Pakistan in 2009. He has 340 caps for Ireland, including having played 114 T20Is and scoring 3,011 runs to be the world’s sixth-highest run-scorer in this format.

In the warm-up matches of the T20 World Cup, Ireland lost to Namibia by 11 runs at the iconic Melbourne Cricket Ground and saw their second warm-up match against Sri Lanka being abandoned due to rain.

“There’s no doubt that we would’ve liked to have played a few more warm-up games, but the lads have had some very good sessions in the nets or indoors. We still have a couple of training sessions in Hobart between now and the first game to fine-tune a few skills, but we feel ready for Monday’s first game against Zimbabwe,” added Stirling.

With the Super 12 matches as well as the final of the T20 World Cup to be held in Melbourne, Stirling thinks Ireland will be motivated to do well in the first round to get a chance of playing a match in MCG later in the tournament.

“Playing at the MCG the other night was a great experience for the squad — I haven’t played there before myself, and it has just given that little bit extra motivation to the lads as they now want to get back there and play in front of a crowd at what is one of the world’s iconic cricket grounds.”

Hobart is a place which holds a very special place in Ireland’s heart, courtesy a thrilling five-run win over Zimbabwe in a high-scoring Pool B match of 2015 Men’s ODI World Cup.

“Hobart holds fond memories for those of us in the squad who played at the 2015 World Cup, the win against Zimbabwe has gone down in Irish cricket history as one of those legendary wins and I know it inspired many kids back home to take up the sport – which is one thing we want to achieve as a squad,” concluded Stirling.

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