THERE will be two new awards at this year’s Cricket Ireland ceremony, which because of the pandemic will be held virtually next Friday evening.

The best players of the decade (2011-2020) for both the men’s and women’s international teams will be recognised and yesterday the shortlists in both categories was announced.

Two of them, Ed Joyce and Tim Murtagh retired in 2018 and 2019 respectively, but the other three, Kevin O’Brien, William Porterfield and Paul Stirling played throughout the decade and it is no coincidence that they are three of Ireland’s four most capped players.

The trio have played 965 internationals – at least one of them was involved in all but two of the 243 games, both effectively an ‘A’ side against Sri Lanka A - and when you add on Joyce and Murtagh, they have more than 1,200 caps between them.

Stirling, Porterfield and O’Brien are the top three runs scorers, with an aggregate of 27,399 from 980 innings while Joyce still has the best average, his 5,552 runs coming at 40.82.

Murtagh, who played only 97 matches, took 142 wickets at an average of 25.54 while O’Brien also features in the list of best bowlers, his 276 wickets, putting him fourth in the list of all-time wicket-takers.

The women’s list, probably not by coincidence, is the top five leading run-scorers in internationals, all of whom who played throughout the decade.

Ulster-born Clare Shillington is the leader of the pack 3,328 runs and also the most-capped player with 180 appearances, and followed by Cecelia and Isobel Joyce, twin sisters of Ed, Kim Garth and current captain Laura Delany.

The first four have all retired from international cricket with Garth, still just 24-years-old, emigrating to Australia where she is on a professional contract with Victoria.

In all, 14 awards will be given out on the night including the Men’s International Player of the Year which, as usual, has been judged on points system by the players themselves after every match, although only 12 were played last year.

It was still 12 more than the women’s who haven’t played an international since September 7, 2019 so their Player of the Year award has, of course, been suspended this year.

The awards night will be broadcast via YouTube, starting at 8pm next Friday and will include interviews with all the winners.