PAUL Stirling is happy to be a “sounding board” to Ireland skipper Andrew Balbirnie after being named as official vice-captain.

The duo have been friends and team-mates throughout their playing careers – even spending five years together at Middlesex – and Stirling, four months the elder, had no hesitation in accepting the role.

“It was fitting to get a call from Bal to ask me to be his vice-captain, said Stirling. “We’ve played together all the way up from when we were kids so I look forward to helping him shape the way this Irish side moves forward in the coming months and years ahead.

“He’s had an excellent start to his captaincy with wins in the Caribbean and the sub-continent (against Afghanistan) but there is so much on your plate as captain, especially with a younger team than we’ve had in the past – so I am happy just to be a sounding board to bounce ideas off and help implement any changes in the way Bal wants to take this team forward on and off the field.”

Balbirnie, 29, was appointed skipper at the end of last year in succession to William Porterfield who had led the team for the previous 10 years –and when asked who he wanted as his deputy, he admitted it was a pretty straightforward choice.

“I’ve known Paul since I was about 12, we lived together over in London and he’s someone I’ve always sought advice from when thinking about my batting, so to have him as my right-hand man over the next few years is really exciting and one I’m sure he’s excited for as well.

“It’s exciting for the next phase of the squad we’re bringing through and for the younger players to have someone like Paul to have a chat to in the changing room or at training he’s valuable to us both on the field and off.”

Although the series is still to be confirmed, the Ireland squad is expecting their next action to be three one-day internationals against England in Southampton, starting on July 30, which will be the first fixtures in the new ICC World Cup Super League, the qualifying pathway to the 2023 World Cup in India.