Gaby Lewis to captain Ireland Women for South Africa series

Regular skipper Laura Delany still injured as hosts prepare for up to four international debuts

Gaby Lewis will captain Ireland Women against South Africa

Gaby Lewis will captain Ireland Women against South Africa  •  Oisin Keniry

Gaby Lewis will captain Ireland Women for next month's six-match, multi-format series against South Africa in Dublin.
As a result of injuries and player unavailability - primarily due to school or college exams - head coach Ed Joyce is without eight of his 20 senior performance squad members for the series.
Lewis will lead the side in the absence of regular captain Laura Delany, who is recovering from injury. Still only 21, Lewis already has 88 caps and is Ireland Women's fifth-highest run-scorer across all formats. She also becomes the first child of a former Irish cricket captain to lead her country, following in the footsteps of her father, Alan Lewis, who led the Ireland men's team 35 times.
Lewis became the first Ireland woman to score a century in any format last August when she struck an unbeaten 105 from 60 balls against Germany in the ICC Women's T20 World Cup Europe Region Qualifier and she was subsequently named in the ICC Women's T20I team of the year for 2021.
"It's an absolute honour to be asked to captain Ireland for the first time," Lewis said. "The opportunity to take on one of the world's leading sides is one I am relishing, and I know the squad is looking forward to the challenge.
"One of the benefits of a competitive domestic Super Series is that - even with up to nine players missing - we are still able to bring in a talented group of players as cover, showing that we are growing our player pool and developing our emerging talent in the right way."
Selectors have chosen four possible debutants in the 14-player squad, including New Zealand-born Arlene Kelly, as well as Alana Dalzell, Sarah Forbes and Kate McEvoy. Jane Maguire is in line to make her T20I debut, if selected, having played four ODIs. New Zealand-based Eimear Richardson was unavailable for the series.
The 28-year-old Kelly, who plays for Auckland Hearts in New Zealand, is an Irish passport-holder and recently relocated to Ireland to pursue cricket opportunities. She has featured for Dragons in the early stages of the Arachas Super Series, claiming Player of the Match honours on debut after scoring 60 and taking 3 for 35 against Typhoons at Lisburn.
Carrie Archer, chair of national women's selectors, said: "We are excited about the inclusion of these potential debutants, but at the same time acknowledge that there's a lot of years of experience missing. We will be facing one of the world's top-ranked teams, and this is our first outing in the ICC Championship.
"Despite the challenges, the squad will still feature a number of senior players who have a wealth of experience - Gaby Lewis, Shauna Kavanagh and Mary Waldron have 335 caps between them. We wish Gaby and her team the best for the challenge ahead."
South Africa's tour of Ireland will begin with three T20Is, starting on June 3, ahead of three ODIs from June 11-17.
The three ODIs will be Ireland's first fixtures as part of the ICC Women's Championship. It was announced this week that Ireland and Bangladesh had been added as the ninth and tenth teams in the 2022-25 Women's Championship, offering sides a chance of direct qualification to the next ODI World Cup in 2025. During the four-year cycle, Ireland will host England, Australia, South Africa and Sri Lanka, and tour Pakistan, India, Bangladesh and West Indies.
Ireland squad: Gaby Lewis (capt), Alana Dalzell, Rachel Delaney, Georgina Dempsey, Sarah Forbes, Shauna Kavanagh, Arlene Kelly, Sophie MacMahon, Jane Maguire, Kate McEvoy, Cara Murray, Leah Paul, Celeste Raack, Mary Waldron