Paul Stirling setting sights on T20 glory after signing for the Steelbacks
Paul Stirling is setting his sights on lifting the Vitality T20 Blast Trophy after signing for Northants Steelbacks.
The Ireland international has put pen to paper on a deal that will see him turn out for the County in the matches that West Indies import Kieron Pollard won't be involved in.
Stirling is set to miss the tournament opener at Lancashire Lightning, but will then be available for five group matches, as well as the knockout stages of the competition should the Steelbacks progress.
That is certainly something the 29-year-old all-rounder, who has a reputation for big hitting, has his eyes on.
“I’m thrilled to be playing for the Steelbacks in this year’s Blast," said Stirling, who left Middlesex at the end of last season after 10 seasons at Lord's.
"My agent Niall O’Brien speaks very fondly of his time there and made a special mention of how superb the fans are.
“It’s a good wicket and the boundaries are small so I’m excited to entertain the people of Northampton.
“I know a few of the guys very well and in Rosso (Adam Rossington) and Cobby (Josh Cobb) they have good leaders as captains at the club.
"I would like to thank David Ripley for showing faith in me and I’m hoping we can win the trophy come September.”
Stirling is a right-handed batsman and right-arm off-break bowler who has an excellent record in T20 cricket.
For Ireland, he has played 75 matches and scored 2,052 runs at 30.17, scoring 17 half-centuries with a strike-rate of just under 140.
He has also picked up 17 wickets at a strike-rate of a wicket every 28 balls.
Overall in T20 cricket, Stirling has played 214 matches, scoring 5,401 runs at 26.47.
He has scored one century and 38 half-centuries with a strike-rate of 142.35, and he has taken 69 wickets at 26.18 at a strike-rate of a wicket every 23 balls.
In 2019, he was the highest run-scorer in T20 internationals, and in October he was the leading run scorer in the ICC T20 World Cup Qualifier tournament in the United Arab Emirates, making 291 runs in eight matches as Ireland qualified for this October's main tournament.
Steelbacks head coach David Ripley is excited to add a player of Stirling’s quality to an already explosive Steelbacks top order.
“Paul brings great experience, skill, and firepower to our line-up," said Ripley.
"He has a reputation as a great team man and we are looking forward to welcoming him into our dressing room
“He’ll dovetail with Kieron Pollard and be available down the road should we qualify for the quarters and beyond. A special thanks to Cricket Ireland for their assistance in allowing Paul to play a role for us.
Steelbacks skipper Cobb was also delighted at the signing, and said: “Stirlo’s such a valuable player to have in your side in the shorter form.
"He’s got experience around the world and especially in England, so I’m looking forward to him hopefully getting us off to a few flying starts.”