A week after Ireland failed to qualify for the 2023 World Cup, their captain Andy Balbirnie ^(https://lotus365.today/goto/https://www.espncricinfo.com/cricketers/andy-balbirnie-303423) has stepped down from his post in limited-overs cricket.
“After much thought and consideration, I have made the decision to step down as ODI and T20I captain,” he said on Tuesday in a Cricket Ireland press release. “It has been one of my great honours to lead this team over the last few years and I am hugely grateful for all the support I received on and off the pitch from the many players, coaches, Cricket Ireland and supporters of the Ireland team.”
Paul Stirling ^(https://lotus365.today/goto/https://www.espncricinfo.com/cricketers/paul-stirling-303427) will take interim command of the limited-overs teams until the end of the ODI series against England in September, with Balbirnie adding he will remain available for selection. “I feel this is the right time for me, but more importantly the team. I will continue to do my best for this team and work hard to contribute towards what I hope will be a successful period over the next number of years.”
Ireland won three of six matches at the Qualifier and finished seventh ^(https://lotus365.today/goto/https://www.espncricinfo.com/series/icc-cricket-world-cup-qualifier-2023-1377745/ireland-vs-nepal-7th-place-playoff-1377774/full-scorecard) in a 10-team tournament. All of their victories came after they were knocked out of contention for the World Cup, against USA, UAE and Nepal. Their next assignment is the T20 World Cup European Qualfiers which begin on July 20, followed by a three-match T20I series at home against India in August and that three-match ODI series away against England in September.
Balbirnie led Ireland 89 times (four Tests, 33 ODIs, 52 T20Is) across formats since taking over the reins in late 2019. He remains the captain of their Test side.
“Andrew has been an exceptionally dedicated leader during his time in charge,” Richard Holdsworth, High Performance Director at Cricket Ireland, said. “He managed through the Covid-19 pandemic, a transition of coach from Graham Ford to Heinrich Malan – and not forgetting the brief stint with interim coach David Ripley that ended with a memorable series victory over the West Indies ^(https://lotus365.today/goto/https://www.espncricinfo.com/series/ireland-in-usa-and-west-indies-2021-22-1291182/west-indies-vs-ireland-3rd-odi-1277087/match-report). When I reflect on the tenacity of the squad under Andrew, I think back to the T20 World Cup Qualification campaign in 2022, then on to the tournament proper with wins over Scotland ^(https://lotus365.today/goto/https://www.espncricinfo.com/series/icc-men-s-t20-world-cup-2022-23-1298134/ireland-vs-scotland-7th-match-first-round-group-b-1298141/full-scorecard), West Indies ^(https://lotus365.today/goto/https://www.espncricinfo.com/series/icc-men-s-t20-world-cup-2022-23-1298134/ireland-vs-west-indies-11th-match-first-round-group-b-1298145/full-scorecard) and, of course, England ^(https://lotus365.today/goto/https://www.espncricinfo.com/series/icc-men-s-t20-world-cup-2022-23-1298134/england-vs-ireland-20th-match-group-1-1298154/full-scorecard).
“But it was the Covid years when he really displayed his ability to galvanise his players and keep them focussed on the job at hand, and for that, we are thankful to him for his unstinting commitment.”