Paul Stirling

Ireland|Batting Allrounder
Paul Stirling
INTL CAREER: 2008 - 2022
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Full Name

Paul Robert Stirling

Born

September 03, 1990, Belfast

Age

32y 94d

Batting Style

Right hand Bat

Bowling Style

Right arm Offbreak

Playing Role

Batting Allrounder

RELATIONS

RB Stirling

(brother)

Paul Stirling has long been recognised as a formidable cricketing talent both in Ireland and beyond. Before his 23rd birthday, he had already hit two ODI centuries against Pakistan. With a natural swagger and belligerence allied to a portly build, Stirling has evoked comparisons with Jesse Ryder. He generates huge power with seemingly little effort and is particularly strong lashing the ball straight or pulling the ball over midwicket.

Born in Belfast, Stirling made his ODI debut at the age of just 17. He played for Ireland in the World Twenty20 in England in 2009, and then signed a three-year contract with Middlesex in December 2009. The following year he gave further notice of his talent by thumping a 134-ball 177 for Ireland against Canada in Toronto - the highest ODI score made by an Irishman. While he struggled in the 2011 World Cup, he ended the tournament with 101 in Ireland's victory against the Netherlands, and a century in Ireland's ODI series against Pakistan in May 2011 had Waqar Younis purring. He added another against the same opponents in Ireland's tie with Pakistan two years later. Stirling also revealed his big match temperament with a pair of blistering innings - 79 off 38 balls and 76 off 43 balls - against Afghanistan in the finals of the World T20 qualifiers in 2012 and 2013.

While Stirling made a fine impression for Middlesex in limited overs cricket, he languished in the second eleven in the Championship. But when he got a chance in 2014, he averaged 43.87 in six games, suggesting that he was capable of managing the transition between the white and red ball. Although he has been troubled by a back injury, which has limited his ability to bowl, Stirling is also a highly competent back-up offspinner. He has frequently bowled his full allocation of overs for Ireland in ODIs and, with 1-45 from ten overs, was Ireland's most economical bowled during their victory over England in Bangalore in the 2011 World Cup.

Stirling had long been a curious case in first-class cricket. The discrepancy between his first-class and limited overs returns for Middlesex had been infuriating. Before his maiden Championship hundred, he averaged 27.77 for the county against the red ball, but 41.46 in one-day cricket. So that century, against Yorkshire at Lord's in 2017, was a perfect celebration of Ireland's elevation to Test status which was formally confirmed on the other side of the Thames, at The Oval, a few days later. "It's about time I did this and also about time I started to score more consistently. That said, I don't want to take away my natural instinct to play attacking cricket. That's the balance I have to find."

Ireland were eagerly seeking to develop club standards as their status in international cricket grew but another century upon Stirling's return to play for his boyhood club, Cliftonville, caused brief resentment later that summer as rules excluded players with recent first-class experience from playing at this standard. "Farcical" was how a tweet from Armagh described it after Stirling bulldozed their attack. Stirling captained Ireland for the first time in 2018 at the Hong Kong Sixes, and often found himself filling in when a first-choice skipper was elsewhere.

As his belligerent form in white-ball internationals continued, Stirling found himself forced to make an unexpected choice in 2019 on account of Ireland's ascent to Test status: either, he could continue to play for Ireland, but count as an overseas player in county cricket, or he could renew his Middlesex contract but forego his international career. He admitted he was "baffled", but chose the former before signing a short-term deal to play for Northants as their second overseas player in the 2020 T20 Blast, despite being born in Belfast and holding a British passport.


ESPNcricinfo staff

Career Averages
Batting & Fielding
FormatMatInnsNORunsHSAveBFSR100s50s4s6sCtSt
Test3601043617.3317758.750016040
ODI1391363517217738.88595786.821326556119520
T20I12112093181115*28.652360134.78121360117280
FC701105293214627.92473361.9461441029400
List A2332269808917737.27897190.162136889184900
T2031931715781811925.885511141.86350899317850
Bowling
FormatMatInnsBallsRunsWktsBBIBBMAveEconSR4w5w10w
Test3112110---5.50-000
ODI1397624411942436/556/5545.164.7756.7110
T20I12142546679203/213/2133.957.4627.3000
FC705623381118272/213/3141.402.8686.5000
List A23311835432947716/556/5541.504.9949.9210
T2031913417482138774/104/1027.767.3322.7100
Paul Robert Stirling
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Photos
Andy Balbirnie and Paul Stirling put up a 68-run opening stand
Paul Stirling took no half-measures while going big
Mark Adair celebrates along with team-mates after dismissing Finn Allen
Paul Stirling bashes the ball over the off side
Paul Stirling watches as Bhanuka Rajapaksa takes the catch to dismiss him
Paul Stirling made a 25-ball 34