Despite limitations, Ireland's eves march forward

Despite limitations, Ireland's eves march forward

Until last year, women were mostly spectators to the various T20 leagues for men that have mushroomed in every major cricketing country. They, however, finally got a chance to be part of the action themselves last December-January when Cricket Australia hosted the first-ever Women’s Big Bash League.

While disappointed at not being a part of it, Ireland women’s cricket team skipper Isobel Joyce felt the tournament could be the catalyst they need. “It was fantastic to see a separate Big Bash League for women and it would have been great to see Irish women play in that. I don’t think Ireland is ready yet for a competition like that. For our men’s team they have inter-provincials and that tournament is getting bigger and bigger.

“Back home in Ireland we were watching it on TV and I felt it was a superb platform for women to express themselves. England are planning to have such a tournament this year and we hope to get a chance there.”

Ireland sealed their trip to India after winning the World T20 Qualifying event in Bangkok last December, beating Bangladesh in a thrilling final.

Joyce, whose three brothers and twin sister have all represented Ireland, said the reception back home following the victory was overwhelming.

“For us back home it was the first time we were acknowledged as a proper sports team as opposed to just taking part. Cricket is not obviously the No 1 sport, it’s soccer and our domestic games. The reception was very good. I coached in cricketing schools and they couldn’t believe they had seen me on television and heard me on radio. So it was a really big breakthrough. The challenge is to keep it going,” said the 32-year-old all-rounder.

The age gap in the Ireland squad is quite vast. While the talented Gaby Lewis and Robyn Lewis are just 14 and 16 years old, Clare Shillington is 35. Joyce felt the team has a good blend of youth and experience.

“Our youngest player Gaby is set to celebrate her 15th birthday and she is the tallest player in the team too. Having said that, along with youth comes fearlessness. She and other youngsters brought plenty of energy for the team during the qualifiers in Thailand and that’s something that you need. We all do get on very well.”
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