Warwickshire back Paul Stirling-Alex Davies partnership to take them to Finals Day

Ireland international signs as Bears' second overseas player for majority of group stages

Matt Roller
Matt Roller
Paul Stirling starred in the Hundred's knockout stages in 2021  •  Getty Images

Paul Stirling starred in the Hundred's knockout stages in 2021  •  Getty Images

Warwickshire hope that Paul Stirling will be a "transformational signing" for their T20 Blast ambitions, as he joins the club for the majority of the group stage to form a new-look opening partnership with Alex Davies.
The Bears were beaten in the quarter-finals by eventual champions Kent last season, but lacked a reliable source of runs at the top of the order. Ed Pollock, explosive on his day but frustratingly inconsistent, has since left for Worcestershire while Adam Hose looks set to slide back into the middle order after a quiet 2021 at the top.
Stirling, a sought-after opening batter in T20 leagues around the world, has spent the vast majority of his county career at Middlesex, though also played for Northamptonshire in 2020 after Ireland's rise to full-member status forced him to register as an overseas player, rather than a local.
"I'm incredibly excited to join up with the Bears for this year's Vitality Blast," Stirling said. "They were the masters of the red-ball game last year but also have big ambitions in white-ball cricket and want to be playing at home on Finals Day. It's going to be a special few weeks and I can't wait to get started."
He is due to play the first 12 group games before joining up with Ireland for their two T20 internationals against India at the end of June, and Warwickshire are hopeful he could be available for Finals Day on July 16 - the day after an Ireland ODI against New Zealand in Dublin - if they Bears reach that stage.
Paul Farbrace, Warwickshire's director of cricket, said that Stirling would open alongside Davies, his team-mate at Southern Brave during their title win in the Hundred last year. That would leave Hose, Chris Benjamin, Sam Hain, Will Rhodes and new captain Carlos Brathwaite in the Bears' middle order, with recent England Under-19 internationals Dan Mousely and Jacob Bethell in reserve.
"Paul could be a transformational signing for us in this year's Blast," Farbrace said. "He is one of the most powerful openers in the T20 game and has lots of experience on the biggest stage, having played in World Cups and global franchise tournaments.
"With a new look opening pair of Paul and Alex Davies in this year's Blast, it's an incredibly exciting line-up that Carlos Brathwaite is going to be captaining when we take to the field at Edgbaston for our opening game against the Steelbacks on May 26."
Stirling was player of the match in the Hundred final last season, but is not expected to be picked up in this year's competition due to a clash with Ireland's series against South Africa and Afghanistan.

Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @mroller98