ISOBEL JOYCE has stepped down as captain of the women's team following Ireland's exit at the group stages of the ICC World Twenty20 in India.

"It's been an honour and a privilege to captain my country for the last six years," said 32-year-old Joyce, who made her debut in 1999. "I've played cricket for Ireland for over half of my life and while I have not decided when I will call time on my playing career, I feel it's time to step aside and help a younger leader to learn the role before I do eventually retire."

The Merrion all-rounder has won 132 caps for the Girls In Green across all formats, including one Test match. Her decision to continue playing is a welcome one, with the chance to participate in another World Cup, a motivating factor.

"I'm looking forward to focusing on my own cricket for the twilight of my playing career and hopefully helping the team qualify for another 50 over World Cup, 16 years after I played in my first one."

Joyce has captained her country on a record 62 occasions - the legendary Miriam Grealey comes closest to her monumental effort with 34.

Highlights of the Joyce reign include leading her team in two successful qualifying tournaments to reach the finals of the last two World Twenty20's - winning the last one by beating Bangladesh in Bangkok in November. That success led to the squad being nominated for team of the year in the RTÉ Sports awards.

"There are far too many people I'd like to thank for supporting me throughout my career but to choose a few, my parents Jimmy and Maureen. Also Eddie and Ursula Lewis for being the constants in my playing career in Merrion; Eddie for the coaching and Ursula for basically managing me through my younger years.

"All of the coaches I've had the pleasure of working with throughout the years, from John Wills to Aaron Hamilton and in particular Miriam Grealey who taught me so much as my captain and coach.

"I'd also like to thank my fiancé John Anderson who has put up with and supported me despite the crazy schedule captaining this team requires. Last but not least, Sue O'Connor who has managed the team over the last few years and without whom we would be lost."

Ireland Head Coach Aaron Hamilton paid tribute to Joyce, thanking her for the dedication and professionalism she brought to the role.

"Isobel has been a professional leader both on and off the field for the team," said Hamilton.

"She will be missed in the role of skipper but I'm delighted she will continue to play and assist this group of talented young players, her experience will be invaluable for us going forward. Now we start the task of bringing on the next generation of leaders in women's cricket in Ireland."

The decision as to who replaces Joyce as skipper will be taken in the coming weeks.

It promises to be a busy international summer for the squad, with a seven-match series lined up against South Africa, and another series against a Full Member close to confirmation.