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Balbirnie will keep faith with misfiring O’Brien



Kevin O’Brien. Credit: INPHO/Morgan Treacy

Kevin O’Brien. Credit: INPHO/Morgan Treacy

©INPHO/Morgan Treacy

Kevin O’Brien. Credit: INPHO/Morgan Treacy

Kevin O’Brien will remain in Ireland’s plans ahead of the T20 World Cup despite his horror series with the bat against South Africa last week.

There was widespread surprise when Ireland’s most capped player was selected for Saturday’s dead rubber against the Proteas after two ducks in the first two games and although he got off the mark with his first ball, he was out four balls later for only two runs.

When his last four one-day internationals are also included, he has now scored just six runs in his last seven Ireland games, but captain Andrew Balbirnie confirmed yesterday he will be selected again for next month’s five-match series against Zimbabwe.

“Kevin is a proven performer, you just have to look at his 2019 stats, he was one of the leading run scorers in the world (in T20 cricket) so two or three games of no scores isn’t going to make you a bad cricketer,” said Balbirnie.

“We fully have faith in Kevin’s ability, he has been a revelation at the top (of the order) and while it didn’t go well for him this week, as he would be the first to admit, he is certainly one we want to keep in our plans going forward.”

While South Africa made five changes for the final game of the series — they completed a 3-0 whitewash with a 49 runs victory — Ireland restricted themselves to just two and while Civil Service North leg spinner Ben White was given his Ireland debut, on his home ground, Donemana’s T20 captain William McClintock and Merrion opener Stephen Doheny were left unused, despite Ireland’s batting struggles in the first two games.

“We felt we had the right team going into the game,” said the captain.

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“We have to be careful with the guys on the fringes and make sure they are 100 per cent ready when they are introduced.

“We have a lot of T20s coming up before the World Cup, so there’s plenty of time for those guys to find their feet in international cricket.”

The Ireland Women continue the international action this week with their final games ahead of a T20 World Cup qualifying tournament in Spain next month.

The face Netherlands in four games at Malahide, starting today at 4pm, a team  Ireland have not lost to in eight T20Is, but who are one of the six teams who will be competing for the one European spot in the global T20 qualifier ahead of the finals in South Africa which have been put back to 2023.

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