Ireland star Hunter on record-breaking innings and qualifiers

Amy Hunter Ireland Zimbabwe
iZimPhoto/Photo JEKESAI NJIKIZANA

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Ireland cricketer Amy Hunter wrote her name in world cricket’s record books by becoming the youngest international centurion (men or women) during a One-Day International against Zimbabwe a month ago.

This week she returns to that southern African nation to compete in the ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup Global Qualifier.

Belfast-born Hunter hit an unbeaten 121 in the fourth ODI of the series between Ireland Women and Zimbabwe Women in Harare on 11 October 2021 – which was her 16th birthday.

She has now returned to Zimbabwe with the Ireland Women’s squad for the World Cup Qualifier tournament and is looking forward to the event that will see Ireland take on West Indies, Sri Lanka and the Netherlands in the Group Stage.

Prior to this, the side takes on Thailand tomorrow in a warm-up match, followed by Pakistan in another warm-up on Friday.

Speaking after training at Old Georgians Sports Club today, Hunter talked about that record-breaking innings.

“It was pure relief and delight, to be honest. I found out about the record during the innings break, but didn’t fully understand how big it was until after the game.

“The girls and management were delighted for me as I’d obviously gone through a bit of a tough patch just previously.

“I had hardly done one interview before, so it was quite a shock to do all the ones that followed.

“It is not something that I ever would’ve expected and while it was an amazing experience, it was definitely new territory and unlike anything I’d experienced before.

“It was definitely a day I will cherish forever and never forget. It was a bit surreal to be honest, I have grown up watching Mithali Raj on TV so for her to tweet about me was an incredible feeling.”

Hunter has worked closely with Ireland Women’s Head Coach Ed Joyce this season – primarily on game plans and mindset. 

The 16-year-old noted that Joyce and the rest of his management team have helped her to grow her batting game and added that the setup’s supportive atmosphere gave her confidence.

Amy started playing cricket when she was eight years old at Instonians Cricket Club, playing with the boys in the Under-11s ‘C’ team.

After a few years, she featured in the Northern Cricket Union (NCU) Boys Under-11s representative side, and also played her first women’s Super Series match at the age of 11 – this led to her selection for the Ireland Girls Under-15s.

The following year [2017], she was selected for the Ireland Women’s Under-19s and was named in the Shapoorji Pallonji Cricket Ireland Academy.

Last November she received her first national call-up for a series against Scotland that didn’t go ahead due to Covid reasons

However, in May this year the series was rescheduled and the prospect made her international debut at Stormont in front of home supporters.

“It has been challenging to balance my studies with cricket, but school – Methodist College, Belfast – make it relatively easy for me to work online when I’m away from home.

“I tend to work in the car to or from training if I have work to get done, but it isn’t too hard.”

While her debut series against Scotland was special, Hunter feels the Zimbabwe series was where she gained the most confidence in her game

The series allowed her to gain more experience at international level and find her feet in an Ireland shirt.

“The only real plan I had was to be really positive in my batting and to play my own game, taking bowlers on from the beginning.”

Hunter also expressed her delight at being able to play alongside batters such as Gaby Lewis and Ireland captain Laura Delany.

She noted that the pair were supportive of her throughout the series and backed the plans she had.

Hunter and Delany play club cricket together at Typhoons, with Delany wearing the armband for the side.

“Laura is incredible – she’s absolutely clear about her plans, and I think this really helped me when I was out there as she helped me establish what I was trying to do and supported me in doing it.

“I’ve played a lot of cricket with Laura with the Typhoons in the Super Series – she’s an amazing person to play under, as regardless of how you are doing she will always back you.

“This season when I was struggling for the Typhoons, she kept reassuring me. Laura has definitely made me a better cricketer as I have and continue to learn so much from the way she goes about her game.”

As for the qualifier that lies ahead for Ireland, Hunter is hopeful that it will open new doors for the side as they look to climb the world rankings.

“Going into the Qualifier, we are hoping that if we play our best cricket we can come in the top five and qualify for the ICC Women’s Championship.

“This will be a huge step in the right direction for us as it will ensure we have regular fixtures against the best sides in the world.”

Ireland kick-off their quest for a spot in the ICC Women’s Championship against the West Indies on Tuesday, November 23 after warm-up matches against Thailand and Pakistan on Tuesday, November 16 and Friday, November 23 respectively.

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