Photo Credit: Oliver McVeigh
New Zealand-born Arlene Kelly is celebrating her surprise call-up to the Ireland Women’s international cricket team for the six-match multi-format series against South Africa, which gets underway this week.
With eight of the 20 senior performance squad members unavailable to head coach Ed Joyce due to injury and exams, the national selectors have called up the recently-arrived all-rounder – who is an Irish Passport holder – to the 14-player squad to take on the South Africans. Kelly only arrived in Ireland earlier this month, but made an immediate impact in the Arachas Super Series with a Player of the Match performance on debut after scoring 60 and taking 3-35 against the Typhoons at Lisburn.
Kelly, who plays her club cricket with Malahide, was speaking after receiving the call-up:
“It was a welcome surprise. I received a call from Ed Joyce letting me know that I was going to be involved in the upcoming home series against South Africa. It’s been a whirlwind couple of days since. When I moved across, I knew I was eligible for selection, but I didn’t place any pressure or expectations on myself around selections.
“I just wanted to play cricket and contribute to the Malahide team both on and off the field. Anything extra was going to be out of my control. Now I’m really looking forward to getting to know the international team and the opportunities that lie ahead.
“Whilst it’s hard to overlook a potential international debut, I’m actually really looking forward to getting to know my teammates outside of cricket. I think there’s so much to add from a cultural perspective in getting to know the person before the player, and what better way to do that than in a 17-day series.”
After arriving in Ireland to pursue further cricket opportunities, the 28-year-old has impressed the Irish selectors with her all-round abilities. But playing in Ireland is an experience she’s thoroughly enjoying, and also learning from:
“I’ve really enjoyed my experience of Irish Cricket so far. I guess you become so familiar with players in the regular New Zealand competition that coming into the Irish club and Super Series scene with very little knowledge of player strengths and weaknesses has meant that I’ve had to read the game and adapt in the moment. It’s a challenge that I’m really enjoying.
“The group of players coming through are all extremely passionate and genuinely want to grow their games which is very exciting. I think Cricket Ireland’s recent investment into the women’s game will only help the team in doing so.
“This opportunity was also going to provide me with the chance to reconnect with family which I’ve really enjoyed so far.”
The Ireland Women’s squad for the T20Is and ODIs against South Africa is:
Gaby Lewis (captain), Alana Dalzell, Rachel Delaney, Georgina Dempsey, Sarah Forbes, Shauna Kavanagh, Arlene Kelly, Sophie MacMahon, Jane Maguire, Kate McEvoy, Cara Murray, Leah Paul, Celeste Raack, Mary Waldron.
The series dates are:
• 3 June 2022: Ireland Women v South Africa Women – 1st T20I (Pembroke, 4.30pm start)
• 6 June 2022: Ireland Women v South Africa Women – 2nd T20I (Pembroke, 4.30pm start)
• 8 June 2022: Ireland Women v South Africa Women – 3rd T20I (Pembroke, 4.30pm start)
• 11 June 2022: Ireland Women v South Africa Women – 1st ODI (Clontarf, 10.45am start)
• 14 June 2022: Ireland Women v South Africa Women – 2nd ODI (Clontarf, 10.45am start)
• 17 June 2022: Ireland Women v South Africa Women – 3rd ODI (Clontarf, 10.45am start)
The three ODIs will be Ireland Women’s first fixtures as part of the ICC Women’s Championship.
All matches will be livestreamed and available at www.livestream.com/CricketIrelandLive.
Tickets to the matches are €5 adults, under-16s go free, with online ticket sales at: www.cricketireland.ie/tickets.