Having played just two international matches for Ireland before being selected in the 15-member squad for the T20 World Cup in Australia, bowling all-rounder Fionn Hand made an immediate impact in his first match of the tournament on Wednesday.
Coming into the playing eleven for the match against England at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, Hand claimed figures of 1/17, including the wicket of all-rounder Ben Stokes as his delivery found the gap between bat and pat to hit the stumps and contribute in Ireland’s famous five-run win.
Now, Hand is keen to see the side carry the momentum forward into the final two Super 12 matches, first of which is against Australia on Monday at The Gabba. “It was an amazing experience playing at the MCG — even better playing against England. Even though a few days have passed, I don’t think it has still fully sunk in.”
“My first ball — which was a wide down legside — actually gave me confidence with the movement and swing that it had on it. The second ball was something I had only dreamed of bowling. Ben Stokes is obviously a world-class batter and major threat, so to get one through him early on was brilliant,” Hand was quoted as saying in an official Cricket Ireland release.
Hand’s celebration — a spontaneous release of pure emotion — became an iconic scene in subsequent match highlights. “The celebration, yeah, I’ve been told I ran a mile. It’s one of those moments you just go with your feelings and emotions. The energy behind that certainly gave me the belief that we had a chance, and that’s what you need in this sport at times.
“After an unbelievable start by Josh (Little) taking two top wickets, I’m just very glad I was able to add to that, make an impact and most importantly help the team. It was just my third game for Ireland, and first in a World Cup — I had been thinking that even if I didn’t play, the chance to just be part of a World Cup squad has been absolutely fantastic. I am very grateful for the captain and coach to give me a chance and the backing to play.”
After the heights of Wednesday’s match against England, Friday’s wash-out against Afghanistan was frustrating but Hand indicates the squad is focused on what they need to achieve. “I have to admit that it was a huge let down that the Afghanistan game was abandoned because of the rain — but no one can control the weather, it’s just part-and-parcel of our game.
“Having played the Afghans in a recent five-match series –and coming out on top with a series win — we were keen to back up the England win with another good performance. But as frustrating as it was on Friday, we have two huge games ahead against Australia and New Zealand.
“After the wins over Scotland, West Indies and England, who knows what we can achieve. We have huge belief as a group, including the great support staff we have around us.”
Hand signed off by hoping Ireland’s performances in the tournament would have inspired young people back home to take up the sport. “Whether I personal play or not is irrelevant, it’s been great learning and playing with this special group. The fans that have travelled have been amazing and have played a huge part of our journey so far.