Photo Credit: Oisin Keniry
Coming away from the final training session ahead of this week’s T20 International series against Netherlands, Ireland’s Eimear Richardson reflects on a big year of improvement and growth in her game and how these four matches are a critical part of preparations ahead of next month’s T20 World Cup Qualifying campaign.
Richardson, 34, was voted the International Player of the Year for Ireland Women in February 2020, and has 87 international caps since debuting for Ireland in 2005. However, her last appearance for Ireland was in September 2019 in a match against Papua New Guinea when she took a remarkable 3-9 from her 4 overs. Since then, she has been based in New Zealand, where she works and plays domestic cricket with Northern Districts – however she insists that pulling on the Irish jersey brings her the most pride:
“It’s a hugely proud moment to pull on an Irish jersey and run out on the field of play – representing your country, there’s no better feeling. It’s an exciting time – a time of nerves, a time of pressure, but also a time to enjoy. That’s the part of looking forward to – the chance to get out there on the park with my teammates, who have all put countless hours in training to get where they are – I’m just really looking forward to it.”
Despite her longevity in the game, Richardson has been keen to learn and evolve to improve what she can offer to the squad:
“I have really enjoyed my last 12 months in the game, and have been really lucky to have spent that time in New Zealand where we played a full domestic season – and given the current climate, that is really something to be thankful for.”
“Within that period I have really focussed on areas to grow within my game, always with the aim of continuous improvement. Something that encourages and drives me is a desire to learn and always strive to get better – and part of that in the last 12 months has been remodelling my bowling action, working hard on my batting, even trying to improve various aspects of my fielding.”
And how important is this series in the context of Ireland Women’s next 6 months?
“The series we start on Monday is an important opportunity – a key part of our preparations for the T20 World Cup Qualifiers. The squad has undertaken a huge amount of work training and preparing, and to get this series in will be hugely advantageous to our campaign as we look ahead to the next 6 months, where we face not only the T20 World Cup Qualifier, but also the 50-over World Cup Qualifier set to be played before Christmas.”
This will be the second T20I series at home in 2021 for Ireland Women after their 3-1 series win against Scotland in May at Stormont.
Netherlands was the first international side Ireland Women faced in their maiden internationally-capped match in 1983 (a One-Day match won by Netherlands). In the T20 format, Ireland and Netherlands have met 8 times in women’s T20Is, with Ireland winning on 7 occasions, and one no result. The two sides are heading to Spain for the T20 World Cup European Qualifier – where Ireland, Scotland, Netherlands, France, Germany and Turkey will battle it out for one spot in the T20 World Cup global qualifying tournament.
The fixtures are:
- 26 July 2021: Ireland Women v Netherlands Women – 1st T20I (Malahide, starting 4pm)
- 27 July 2021: Ireland Women v Netherlands Women – 2nd T20I (Malahide, starting 4pm)
- 28 July 2021: Reserve Day
- 29 July 2021: Ireland Women v Netherlands Women – 3rd T20I (Malahide, starting 4pm)
- 30 July 2021: Ireland Women v Netherlands Women – 4th T20I (Malahide, starting 4pm)
- Laura Delany (captain), Ava Canning, Rachel Delaney, Georgina Dempsey, Shauna Kavanagh, Gaby Lewis, Lara Maritz, Sophie MacMahon, Leah Paul, Orla Prendergast, Celeste Raack, Eimear Richardson, Rebecca Stokell, Mary Waldron. COVID reserve: Amy Hunter.
- Heather Siegers (Captain), Babette de Leede (Vice-Captain), Annemijn van Beuge, Annemijn Thomson, Eva Lynch, Frederique Overdijk, Hannah Landheer, Iris Zwilling, Isabel van der Woning, Julia Corder, Juliet Post, Miranda Veringmeier, Robine Rijke , Silver Siegers.