End of the road for Ireland
Ian Callender (Belfast Telegraph)
WE knew two retirements would follow Ireland Women’s World Twenty20 campaign in the Caribbean but in the end there were four.
Clare Shillington and Ciara Metcalfe, the two elder stateswomen of the Irish side – with 40 years of playing experience between them – had announced before the tournament that it would end their careers but, after the eight wickets defeat to New Zealand in the final group game on Saturday night, the 35-year-old Joyce twins, Isobel and Cecelia told their team-mates that this was also their last game for Ireland.
They announced it in an emotional huddle on the outfield of the Providence Stadium in Guyana after the White Ferns had knocked off the 80 runs required with 69 balls to spare as Ireland were outclassed once again on the world stage.
Gaby Lewis had not looked out of place with an excellent 39 from 36 balls, but following her dismissal in the 16th over, Ireland could add only eight runs from the last 28 balls, while losing four wickets, to finish on 79-9. The 19th over was a wicket maiden.
Two landmarks from the game, showed how far apart the two teams were on Saturday; Shillington, in her last game, brought up 1,000 runs in T20 cricket, New Zealand opener Suzie Bates, six years her junior, scored her 3,000th.
Just 48 hours earlier, Isobel Joyce had spoke eloquently at a Press conference, highlighting the difficulties that an all-amateur side face when playing alongside the elite of the professional game. That they are the 10th best team in the world – and deserving of their place in the global tournaments - speaks volumes for their dedication.
“I personally have to get up and go to the gym at 6:00 in the morning then go do a full days' work and find time to do my cricket skills during the winter, and then during the summer I'm a full-time coach and personal trainer. It's very difficult to find the time to get your skills up to scratch like the girls we're playing against,” said Isobel.
She won’t have to do it again, but most of the others will, but, unbelievably they don’t know when. They have not a single international fixture confirmed for 2019.