Stirling stars as Irish players to the fore in T20
Ian Callender (Belfast Telegraph)
Last night, Paul Stirling hit 71 off 49 balls to help Middlesex to their first Friends Life Twenty20 win of the season, against Hampshire. Stirling, named player of the match, hit eight fours and two sixes before he was out with his county 26 short of victory. Middlesex reached their target of 161 with four balls to spare.
Kevin O’Brien got one over his brother, Niall, as Somerset beat Northamptonshire in their Friends Life T20 clash at Taunton.
No fewer than six of the Ireland team to play Australia in the one-day international at Stormont on Saturday were in action with their counties, but it was the clash of the O’Briens which caught the imagination and they gave each other as good as they got in a confrontation captured on live television.
After making his debut for Somerset last week at No 7, Kevin O’Brien was promoted to No 3 yesterday, coming to the middle in the third over, and with no little banter between himself and the Northamptonshire wicket-keeper, he hit 21 off 20 balls with three fours and a six.
Earlier, Niall, also batting at first wicket down, was not so successful, scoring just eight before he was caught by his younger brother off the bowling off the third Irishman in the match, George Dockrell.
The left arm spinner finished with two for 17 in his four overs and he finished on the winning side without having to bat, Somerset reaching their target of 138 with five wickets and one ball to spare.
No-one in the Ireland team is batting better at the moment than Gary Wilson.
Ignored in the county championship, the Ireland wicket-keeper next Saturday is playing as a specialist batsman in the one-day competitions for Surrey and yesterday he scored another half century, 53 off 43 balls (four fours and a six) out of the visitors’ 116 for seven.
Wilson ended up on the losing side, however, Kent winning by eight wickets with almost four overs to spare.
Ireland captain William Porterfield also ended up on the losing team after being dismissed third ball for four in Warwickshire’s rain-interrupted game against Glamorgan who needed only 58 to win under Duckworth/Lewis.
Paul Stirling was, surprisingly, the only Irish player involved in the Middlesex-Sussex game at Lords on Sunday with possible international debutant Tim Murtagh and Ed Joyce both left out of the starting line-ups as Sussex won by 11 runs.
Stirling fared worst off all, dismissed for just two, but all the county professionals have at least two more games before they meet up in Belfast for the game against the world’s No 1 side on Friday.