Photo Credit: Morgan Hancock/Getty Images
Having played just two internationals for Ireland before being selected for the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup squad, Dubliner Fionn Hand made an immediate impact in his first match of the tournament on Wednesday and is keen to see the side carry the momentum forward into the final two Group Stage matches.
Coming into the playing XI against England – which was his first appearance in the tournament, 24-year old bowling all-rounder Hand claimed 1-17 including the wicket of Ben Stokes with his second ball:
“It was an amazing experience playing at the MCG – even better playing against England. Even though a few days have passed, I don’t think it has still fully sunk in.
“My first ball – which was a wide down legside – actually gave me confidence with the movement and swing that it had on it. The second ball was something I had only dreamed of bowling. Ben Stokes is obviously a world-class batter and major threat, so to get one through him early on was brilliant. After an unbelievable start by Josh [Little] taking two top wickets, I’m just very glad I was able to add to that, make an impact and most importantly help the team.
“It was just my third game for Ireland, and first in a World Cup – I had been thinking that even if I didn’t play, the chance to just be part of a World Cup squad has been absolutely fantastic. I am very grateful for the captain and coach to give me a chance and the backing to play.”
Hand’s celebration – a spontaneous release of pure emotion – became an iconic scene in subsequent match highlights:
“The celebration, yeah, I’ve been told I ran a mile. It’s one of those moments you just go with your feelings and emotions. The energy behind that certainly gave me the belief that we had a chance, and that’s what you need in this sport at times.”
After the heights of Wednesday’s match against England, Friday’s wash-out against Afghanistan was frustrating but Hand indicates the squad is focussed on what they need to achieve:
“I have to admit that it was a huge let down that the Afghanistan game was abandoned because of the rain – but no one can control the weather, it’s just part-and-parcel of our game. Having played the Afghans in a recent five-match series – and coming out on top with a series win – we were keen to back up the England win with another good performance. But as frustrating as it was on Friday, we have two huge games ahead against Australia and New Zealand. After the wins over Scotland, West Indies and England, who knows what we can achieve. We have huge belief as a group, including the great support staff we have around us.
“Whether I personal play or not is irrelevant, it’s been great learning and playing with this special group. The fans that have travelled have been amazing and have played a huge part of our journey so far.
“We hope we can inspire the next generation back home which is very important for Irish cricket. We have had an unbelievable time so far, but we could all do with a bit of sunshine!”
Ireland’s next game is against Australia at 6pm, Monday 31 October at the Gabba in Brisbane (8am Ireland time).