Balbirnie announced his resignation as his team’s ODI and T20I captain on Tuesday, July 4, in the wake of the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023 Qualifiers fiasco.
After assuming the position in 2019, Andrew Balbirnie guided the Ireland National Cricket Team through 89 games across all formats. Ireland did not fare well in the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023 Qualifiers under his direction.
Ireland lost three of their four group-stage matches, which resulted in their elimination from contention for the 2023 World Cup in India.
They defeated Nepal and the USA to take seventh place on the points table after being eliminated.
Cricket Ireland had named Paul Stirling the team’s acting captain following Andrew Balbirnie’s resignation from the position.
Now, though, he has been handed the captaincy permanently in both ODIs and T20Is as the selectors focus on the upcoming four-year cycle that includes three World Cups.
Paul Stirling expressed his desire to guide Ireland to success over the next four years in an official statement released by Cricket Ireland. He stated that he doesn’t take the position of leader for granted. He clarified:
“Playing for Ireland has always been a source of pride for me and to be confirmed as the permanent white-ball captain is a recognition I don’t take for granted.
I have very much enjoyed working with Heinrich [Malan] and the coaching staff over the last few months as interim skipper, but we all know that we have potentially three world cup campaigns over the next four years and the work starts now.
“I said recently that ODI cricket was my favourite format, and to watch on as the 50-over World Cup has been underway is actually been a great motivator for me to ensure we are there at the next event in 2027.
I know this desire is a common feeling throughout the squad, and so we’ll look to harness this drive into the next series scheduled for December.
“We also recognise that there is only eight months now to the next T20 World Cup, so the clock has well-and-truly started on our preparations.”
The chief selector of Cricket Ireland, Andrew White, said that they are happy that the veteran batter Paul Stirling has accepted the leadership role in white-ball cricket. He elaborated:
“We’re delighted that Stirlo [Paul Stirling] has accepted the role and – despite working closely with him in an interim capacity over the last few months – it feels as though we are now at the start of a new cycle with a lot of cricket coming our way over the next four years.
“The splitting of the white-ball and red-ball captaincy is an important piece for us, as the responsibilities both on-field and off-field as a captain are immense. We believe Andrew Balbirnie has much to give in red-ball leadership and want him to continue on in that capacity, while Paul will focus on the ODI and T20 disciplines.
“This captaincy delineation has no bearing on either player’s participation in any of the three formats, and we would expect both Paul and Andrew to be in consideration in all three formats into the foreseeable future.
“To have Paul and Andrew, with 600 caps of experience between them, as our white and red ball captains respectively means we have a vast reservoir of cricket knowledge that can benefit the wider squad.
I am pleased that we have now settled the captaincy matter and I know the planning between the coaching and senior leadership group has already begun. We have an exciting four-year period coming up and I look forward to working closely with Paul and Andrew as we take this squad forward.”
Also, the head coach of the side, Heinrich Malan, praised Paul Stirling for his services over the years and said that the batter still has a lot to contribute to Cricket Ireland. He elaborated (as quoted by Cricket Ireland):
“The last few months of dealing so closely with Paul has confirmed that we have an asset of vast experience and knowledge within the playing group – experience and knowledge he has gained from his time with Ireland, in franchise cricket and formerly within county cricket.
“While fans may appreciate Paul’s talent on the field, his leadership skills and ability to communicate within the squad is a much under-estimated attribute.
He lives and breathes cricket and has a passion for Irish cricket that is plain for everyone to see. It’s incredible to think Paul has been playing international cricket for 15 years and still has more good years ahead to lead this team and help improve Irish cricket.
“We know the challenges we have in Irish cricket, but we are very much a coaching and leadership unit that looks for solutions rather than finding excuses. Paul exemplifies this – he is an outright optimist and I know is driven to succeed.
It is indeed welcoming to settle the leadership question, and we are very much looking forward to taking Irish cricket forward over coming years.”
Remarkably, Andrew Balbirnie, who resigned as Ireland’s white-ball captain, will remain the team’s Test captain. Speaking of Paul Stirling, he is the second most capped player in Ireland history behind Kevin O’Brien with 22 caps in all formats.