A Stir­ling in­nings from Ir­ish ace as he trans­fers big hit­ting to county for­mat

Harefield Gazette - - Sports -

A LI­CENCE to bring his brand of white-ball may­hem to four-day cricket lay be­hind Paul Stir­ling’s first County Cham­pi­onship cen­tury on Mon­day, writes Jon Batham.

The Ir­ish international, with a rep­u­ta­tion as a bel­liger­ent hit­ter in the T20 and 50-over for­mats, plun­dered 16 fours and a tow­er­ing six in the reign­ing cham­pi­ons’ clash with York­shire at Lord’s. In the week where the Emer­ald Isle may be ad­mit­ted to the group of Test-play­ing na­tions the in­nings had ex­tra poignancy.

“The cap­tain [James Franklin] said go out and play with ab­so­lute free­dom,” said Stir­ling. “Just watch the ball and play like you do when there is a white-ball com­ing” [Franklin told Stir­ling]. “It’s about play­ing with that free­dom.”

The value of Stir­ling’s con­tri­bu­tion is dif­fi­cult to un­der­es­ti­mate. An­gus Fraser’s side, beaten for the first time in 21 matches by Lan­cashire at South­port last week, were with­out not only in­jured over­seas ace Adam Vo­ges, but also Dawid Malan and Nick Gub­bins be­cause of their Eng­land call-ups.

That meant pro­mo­tion for Stir­ling to num­ber four for the first time for his county.

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