Ireland’s Paul Stirling and Kevin O’Brien are all set to play in the inaugural edition of the Afghanistan Premier League (APL) after being picked up by the Kandahar Knights in the players draft recently.
O’Brien is delighted to be flying out with his teammate Stirling to Sharjah to join his new Kandahar team-mates, as well as, looking forward to playing under the captaincy of Brendon McCullum in the APL.
As per reports in ICC’s official website, O’Brien said, “I'm delighted to be heading over with Stirlo (Stirling) to Sharjah to join the Kandahar Knights. The call came late last week that I was being offered an opportunity in the APL and it took a matter of seconds for me to say yes. I’m very much looking forward to playing under Brendon McCullum – he’s a captain who encourages his team to have confidence in yourself and express yourself on the field, whether with bat or ball in hand.”
He further added, “As for my new team-mates, when you are sitting in a dressing room surrounded by some of the world’s elite cricketers, you can learn so much in their mindset and approach to playing and training. That’s the beauty of franchise cricket – you get to play with a wide range of cricketers that you would previously never have had the opportunity to.”
Meanwhile, Stirling, who recently played for Middlesex in the county season, believes that playing in franchise tournaments will help Irish players ahead of the ICC World Twenty20 Qualifiers 2019.
He further explained, “With the World T20 Qualifier around the corner next year, it’s really important to have Irish players at these tournaments, bringing the experiences gained back into the Ireland set-up. We’ve seen how it has improved the Afghanistan side inside two years where they have had a handful of players play in the Big Bash and IPL getting used to playing day-in day-out against the best in the world, in front of full houses and always on TV.”
Stirling signed off by saying, “Hopefully, we (Ireland) can produce more and more cricketers who can play in these competitions in the future to keep up with how quickly this format of the game is progressing.”