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