Paul Stirling: Absence of Alex Hales not a concern for Ireland

Batsman knows side must ‘be at our very best even to challenge these guys’

Ireland batsman Paul Stirling bats against England during the one-day international against  England at Lord’s in May 2017. Photograph: Andrew Fosker/Inpho

Ireland batsman Paul Stirling bats against England during the one-day international against England at Lord’s in May 2017. Photograph: Andrew Fosker/Inpho

 

Alex Hales’s messy removal from England’s World Cup plans may be big news for the tournament favourites but Ireland batsman Paul Stirling says the drama has barely appeared on his radar.

England play their first game of a huge summer in Malahide on Friday, with the hosts eyeing an upset that would only partially distract from their own disappointment at not qualifying for the slimmed down 10-team competition.

The Irish would be forgiven for hoping Hales’s removal, following two failed tests for reported use of recreational drugs, might disrupt the world’s top-ranked one-day international side, while the home bowlers will surely not miss the Nottinghamshire opener’s powerful strokeplay.

But Stirling, a hard-hitting opener in his own right, has hardly considered the implications.

“To be honest I don’t really know the news and I don’t really read the papers, it means nothing to us,” said Stirling.

“I’ve heard a couple of people talking in the dressingroom so I know what’s going on, but we know we have to be at our very best even to challenge these guys.

“The likes of Dawid Malan and Ben Duckett are coming instead and we know how good they are and how hungry they are to score runs with the World Cup squad finalised soon.”

Middlesex batsman Stirling is one of Ireland’s most dangerous players, the country’s second most prolific run-scorer in ODIs with 3,536 runs and seven centuries to his name.

He has yet to make 50 in seven outings against England however, averaging only 21.14, but is not hung up on that record.

“That’s the first I knew about it, but I certainly hope I get a few on Friday and let’s hope it’s a hundred not just a 50,” he added.

“I don’t look to score against particular teams, but it’s another game for your country and they’re always a good outfit to play.”

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