The Ireland cricket team continue to make big strides at the international level, as they showed at the 2022 ICC T20 World Cup when they qualified for the Super 12s.
Victory over eventual winners England was their highlight of that tournament. It was one of the country’s biggest wins against a full member of the ICC.
Cricket is not one of the leading sports in Ireland. It has yet to gain the same popularity as GAA and rugby. However, now that more Irish players are becoming involved in major domestic competitions, that could change in the future.
Here is a look at three Irish players who are set to feature in big domestic events in 2023.
Pace bowler Josh Little is one of the most exciting players in the Ireland national team. He already has 61 appearances for his country across T20Is and ODIs. His performances for Ireland and domestic cricket for Leinster Lightning have earned him so many contracts across the world.
— Cricket Ireland (@cricketireland) January 21, 2023
Little has begun his year in SA20, the new franchise league in South Africa. He was drafted by the Pretoria Capitals to play in the T20 competition. As of the 23rd of January, the Capitals are the 39/20 favourites in the SA20 betting to win the finalon the 11th of February.
Just like in soccer and other sports, scoring a hat-trick in cricket is a big deal. The Irish bowler took his first international hat-trick in 2022. It came at the T20 World Cup in Australia. He dismissed Kane Williamson, James Neeshamand Mitchell Santner in an incredible spell of bowling against the Kiwis.
Little is set to become the first Irish player in history to feature in the IPL in 2023. He has been purchased by the defending champions the Gujarat Titans. That is a huge opportunity for the bowler to test himself in the leading franchise league in world cricket.
With over 5,000 runs, no player has accumulated more runs for Ireland in ODI cricket than Paul Stirling. His score of 177 against Canada in 2010 also remains a record as the highest individual innings for the national team in limited-overs cricket.
The Northern Knights player holds a contract with Islamabad United in the Pakistan Super League. He is set to return to the T20 league when it resumes in February for the eighth season in its history.
Stirling was involved in the opening year of The Hundred in England when he played for the Southern Brave. He has also played for the Guyana Amazon Warriors in the 2022 Caribbean Premier League.
With the experience he has in domestic and international cricket, Stirling is very attractive to a lot of franchises. Expect to see him prove popular in many auctions around the world in 2023.
Bowler Tim Murtagh has taken more Test wickets for Ireland than any other player. As of the 23rd of January, he had 11 wickets in Test cricket, with his best figure being his 5/13, which he landed against England at Lord’s in 2019.
Despite being 41 years old now, Murtagh remains the club captain at Middlesex where he plays his county cricket. He has been with the county since 2007 and he was part of their County Championship success in 2016.
9⃣0⃣0⃣ first-class wickets up for Tim Murtagh!
An amazing achievement for the @Middlesex_CCC man 👏
— PCA (@PCA) April 8, 2022
In 2022, Murtagh picked up his 900th wicket in first-class cricket. That was a huge milestone for English-born Irish bowler. He goes into the 2023 campaign with 985 wickets for Middlesex and, as long as he stays fit across the year, he should reach 1,000 in the early stages of the campaign.
Murtagh’s role with Middlesex is a different one now as he signed a player-coach deal at the start of the year. It remains to be seen how long he will continue playing, but the experience he will get as an assistant coach in 2023 will be very useful. He has been tipped as a potential future head coach of Ireland, but for now, he will be concentrating on helping his county on their return to Division One.
In what is a big year for Ireland, they have a Test series with England to look forward to. As well as a Rugby World Cup in 2023, there is a Cricket World Cup that Ireland will be hoping to be involved in.