Photo Credit: Steve Bond
Paul Stirling has today been announced as Ireland Men’s permanent white-ball captain effective immediately, while Andrew Balbirnie will continue as red-ball captain as national selectors look towards the next cycle with two T20 World Cups and a 50-over world cup set to be played in the next four years.
Stirling, 33, has led his country 22 times across formats (six ODIs, 16 T20Is). He has appeared for Ireland on 376 occasions, 13 short of Kevin O’Brien’s record number of caps.
Stirling was appointed the interim white-ball captain in July 2023 after Andrew Balbirnie stepped down from that role.
During Stirling’s career-to-date, he has amassed 11,756 runs across all formats – Ireland Men’s highest-ever run-scorer. He is also one of only 25 cricketers to score a century in all three formats.
Speaking of his permanent appointment, Stirling said:
“Playing for Ireland has always been a source of pride for me and to be confirmed the permanent white-ball captain is a recognition I don’t take for granted. I have very much enjoyed working with Heinrich [Malan] and the coaching staff over the last few months as interim skipper, but we all know that we have potentially three world cup campaigns over the next four years and the work starts now.
“I said recently that ODI cricket was my favourite format, and to watch on as the 50-over World Cup has been underway is actually been a great motivator for me to ensure we are there at the next event in 2027. I know this desire is a common feeling throughout the squad, and so we’ll look to harness this drive into the next series scheduled for December.
“We also recognise that there is only eight months now to the next T20 World Cup, so the clock has well-and-truly started on our preparations.”
Andrew White, National Selector, said:
“We’re delighted that Stirlo [Paul Stirling] has accepted the role and – despite working closely with him in an interim capacity over the last few months – it feels as though we are now at the start of a new cycle with a lot of cricket coming our way over the next four years.
“The splitting of the white-ball and red-ball captaincy is an important piece for us, as the responsibilities both on-field and off-field as a captain are immense. We believe Andrew Balbirnie has much to give in red-ball leadership and want him to continue on in that capacity, while Paul will focus on the ODI and T20 disciplines. This captaincy delineation has no bearing on either player’s participation in any of the three formats, and we would expect both Paul and Andrew to be in consideration in all three formats into the foreseeable future.
“To have Paul and Andrew, with 600 caps of experience between them, as our white and red ball captains respectively means we have a vast reservoir of cricket knowledge that can benefit the wider squad. I am pleased that we have now settled the captaincy matter and I know the planning between the coaching and senior leadership group has already begun. We have an exciting four-year period coming up and I look forward to working closely with Paul and Andrew as we take this squad forward.”
Heinrich Malan, Head Coach for Ireland Men, said:
“The last few months of dealing so closely with Paul has confirmed that we have an asset of vast experience and knowledge within the playing group – experience and knowledge he has gained from his time with Ireland, in franchise cricket and formerly within county cricket. While fans may appreciate Paul’s talent on the field, his leadership skills and ability to communicate within the squad is a much under-estimated attribute. He lives and breathes cricket and has a passion for Irish cricket that is plain for everyone to see. It’s incredible to think Paul has been playing international cricket for 15 years and still has more good years ahead to lead this team and help improve Irish cricket.
“We know the challenges we have in Irish cricket, but we are very much a coaching and leadership unit that looks for solutions rather than finding excuses. Paul exemplifies this – he is an outright optimist and I know is driven to succeed. It is indeed welcoming to settle the leadership question, and we are very much looking forward to taking Irish cricket forward over coming years.”