By Charlie Talbot-Smith
THE wait for Ireland Women’s return to the World Cup goes on but despite last month’s disappointment, skipper Laura Delany insists good times are just around the corner.
Delany’s troops failed to qualify for the World Cup in England later this year through last month’s Qualifier Tournament held in Sri Lanka.
They did reach the Super Sixes – enough to retain their ODI status – but slipped to defeats in every game subsequently as India, South Africa, Pakistan and hosts Sri Lanka grabbed the remaining four spots.
That means Ireland have still not made an ODI World Cup since 2005 – a poor return for a side that finished fifth back in 1993.
And Delany – who took over the captaincy duties almost a year ago – admits she and her charges let themselves down on the big stage.
“Look, we were disappointed not to qualify, that was the main aim,” said the 24-year-old.
“Over the last 12 months this side have made real progress – we didn’t manage to demonstrate that over the last four or five weeks but this side has grown a great deal.
“We didn’t capitalise on opportunities we had against some sides that we have beaten before.
“Pakistan and Sri Lanka – they were the sides we had targeted but we didn’t adjust to playing spin quickly enough.
“We ended up giving quick wickets away, you allow pressure to build and that makes life very hard on the incoming batsmen.
“Both areas, batting and bowling, have to be right. We didn’t manage to put it all together in this tournament.
“But we have learned a lot from this – at this level we need to make game plans and moving forward we need to be really disciplined about sticking to them.
“With the ball we need to make sure we are taking more early wickets – otherwise you end up paying later on in the innings like we did here. You have to make the most of your chances when you are on top.”
While Ireland’s Women have not made the World Cup in 12 years, they will now switch their focus onto next year’s World T20. They qualified in that format both in 2014 and 2016 and with the Qualifier early next year, Delany and her team-mates are hoping to take a leaf from the men’s team.
“We are striving to emulate the guys, they have caused a few upsets. We have beaten South Africa and beaten Bangladesh before, but it didn’t go our way this time,” she added.
“We need to make sure that we put that right for the next one. We have learned a lot about ourselves.
“T20 is very exciting and after these internationals our attention switches back to them – there are not many ODIs after that.
“Having been involved in that last t20 World Cup it is something that we are desperate to experience again.”
Before that, however, this summer Ireland look set to be confirmed in a quad-series in South Africa with Zimbabwe and India before returning the favour as the Proteas build into the World Cup.
Those fixtures have not been confirmed as yet but Delany is confident Ireland – who had both Kim Garth and Isobel Joyce competing in the Women’s Big Bash League but just lost Clare Shillington to retirement – have a bright future.
“We have got a busy schedule this summer and we are confident that we can continue to improve as a side,” she added. “People back home may disagree, but this side have taken so many positive steps forward. We have two girls playing in the WBBL, which is invaluable experience for them, and I am really confident in these girls that the improvements will continue if we keep working hard.
“We are sad to lose Clare (Shillington) who has been a huge part of Irish women’s cricket, but every side goes through these changes.
“We are very confident in the talent levels we have in what is already a very young squad.
“The job is now for the 23 or 24-year-olds like myself to step up and take on even more of that leadership responsibility – we cannot always rely on the senior girls.”
This piece originally featured in The Cricket Paper, March 3 2017
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