Paul Stirling named Ireland’s International Player of Decade at Irish Cricket Awards

Belfast’s Paul Stirling had a double cause for celebration following Friday night’s ITW Irish Cricket Awards.

Stirling scooped the top accolade as he was named the Men’s International Player of the Decade (2011-2020) and also added the title of International Player of the Year for good measure.

Stirling and Kim Garth were the winners of the main gongs in the men’s and women’s categories respectively at the awards, which were broadcast on Youtube and hosted by sports journalist and broadcaster Marie Crowe, supported by RTE’s John Kenny and former Ireland Men’s captain Kyle McCallan. You can watch the awards show by clicking here.

Stirling beat off opposition from a distinguished shortlist including Ed Joyce, Tim Murtagh, Kevin O’Brien and William Porterfield to earn the prestigious title of top international player of the past ten years.

Ireland's Paul Stirling. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images for ECB)

In its assessment, the juding panel described Stirling as consistenly ‘world-class’.

“Paul’s consistency over the decade, improving year by year, was world-class,” the panel said.

“He has an amazing natural talent with power and match winning qualities. Opening the batting against top quality bowling attacks, he has an outstanding strike rate which gives the team the best chance of being successful against the top nations.”

A delighted Stirling spoke of his pride at receiving such a ‘special’ recognition.

“It’s a pretty special award I must admit and over such a long period of time to come out with something like this, I’m delighted because there have been so many great teams.

“I’m not quite sure how I’ve managed to come out on top but I’m absolutely delighted to receive the award. I certainly am someone who always feels that a lack of form might be around the corner, so I’m always trying to make sure I’m using everything I’ve got at any time.

“I’m always aware that there will be someone else coming through, a 16-year-old somewhere in Ireland who will take my spot, so I always think every game or the next series is vital,” he added.

“I never take if for granted but to come out on top for an award over that period of time is just class.”

Stirling also won the International Player of the Year award from Andrew Balbirnie and Craig Young.

The peer-nominated award was decided on a ranking system, with players each picking their top three team-mates after each game. Stirling received 42 per-cent of the votes with Balbirnie taking 20 per-cent and Young earning 14 per-cent to claim the top three places.

For the Women’s International Player of the Decade, Kim Garth got the nod ahead of Laura Delany, Cecelia Joyce, Isobel Joyce and Clare Shillington.

Acknowledging her contribution, the judging panel said: “With the ball, she’s not only a wicket-taker, but economical too. She was named as the standout player in the Irish team by the International Cricket Council at the T20 World Cup in 2018, was one of the six players awarded a professional contract in 2019, and finished that year as the leading run-scorer for Ireland in the T20 World Cup Qualifier.”

A total of 14 accolades were handed out and each winner will receive an engraved award designed by Irish brand Waterford.

There was also a heartfelt tribute to the late Roy Torrens, which featured contributions from former Irish coaches Adi Birrell and Phil Simmons.

The winners were:

ITW International Player of the Decade – Men: Paul Stirling.

Hanley Energy International Player of the Decade – Women: Kim Garth.

ITW International Men’s Player of the Year: Paul Stirling.

Test Triangle Inter-Provincial Player of the Year: Simi Singh.

Arachas Super Series Player of the Year: Laura Delany.

Tildenet Club of the Year: Limerick Cricket Club.

O’Neill’s Club Male Player of the Year: John Anderson.

O’Neiil’s Club Female Player of the Year: Alana Dalzell.

Cricket Writers of Ireland Hall of Fame: Inductee 1: Caitriona Beggs; Inductee 2: Peter Gillespie; Inductee 3 (posthumous): Jimmy Boucher.

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