The highest ranked team in the competition, Ireland are the favourites to top the points table and book their spot in the global qualifiers. Having failed to make the cut for the previous T20 World Cup, the Laura Delany-led squad come in to the tournament with plenty to prove. Since the disappointment of the 2019 T20 World Cup Qualifier in Scotland, Ireland have built a strong unit – one that comes into this tournament with a decent amount of game-time under their belts having played the domestic Super Series and a couple of international series against Scotland and Netherlands.
Team speak: Having taken over the role of full-time head coach shortly after the global qualifiers in 2019, Ed Joyce and his charges had to wait over 600 days to take the field in an international match. However, since then, the no.10 ranked T20I side have won two series, against Scotland and Netherlands, leading in to this tournament.
“We’ve had a decent preparation period with the squad – the Super Series, the match against Lancashire and the Netherlands series have all allowed us the opportunity to hone our tactics and help shape the roles each member of the squad will be expected to play," said Joyce. “With only one side going through from here, it will be a challenging week”
Key player: Fresh off a short stint at The Hundred and a successful couple of series against Scotland and Netherlands, Gaby Lewis will be high on confidence heading into the European qualifier. With 850 runs in T20Is, Lewis is Ireland’s third-highest run-getter in the format. Her strike rate of close to 110, makes her the fastest scorer for her team amongst those with over 150 runs.
Batting at the top of the order, the 20-year-old is Ireland’s most dangerous weapon. She has the ability to score quickly – hitting over and through the field – and the propensity to pile up big scores once set.
One to watch: A promising allrounder, Orla Prendergast has quickly established herself as Ireland’s premier fast bowler after the exit of Kim Garth. With 14 wickets in as many T20Is, the 19-year-old has shown great control when bowling her big, booming inswingers. Having earned a part-time contract with Cricket Ireland last year, Prendergast has improved dramatically over the last year, scoring heavily in the domestic competition while also taking plenty of wickets.
Most recently, against Scotland and Netherlands, the right-arm seamer took nine wickets in just six matches at an astounding average of 8.88, and scored 64 runs at a strike rate of 118. As coach Joyce identified, “Her all-round talent has been recognised for a while, and she has shown that she can step up with each challenge that has come her way.”
Squad: Laura Delany (c), Georgina Dempsey, Amy Hunter, Gaby Lewis, Louise Little, Sophie MacMahon, Lara Maritz, Cara Murray, Leah Paul, Orla Prendergast, Eimear Richardson, Rebecca Stokell, Mary Waldron (wk)