To play once for your country is an incredible honour for any sportswoman or sportsman. Lynne Cantwell won the most rugby caps for Ireland, 78, while Emma Byrne (134) tops the list in football.

Already the most capped cricketer, last week Laura Delany brought her total to 200.

After the worst floods in 75 years that hit UAE cleared, the milestone was passed against Thailand in Dubai, where Ireland, under Delany’s captaincy, are battling for a place in the T20 World Cup in Bangladesh.

Delany insists the tournament is vital for the progress of women's cricket in Ireland.

‘It’s huge,’ she says. ‘The only games we play that are on TV are in the World Cup every two or three years. So for us to qualify not only means we play against some of the best sides in the world but also that we can get exposure for women’s cricket in Ireland.

‘Home series are great – last year against Australia people came out and supported us, and this year we have visits from England and Sri Lanka but World Cups give us a chance to gain a bigger audience and grow the game.’

Ireland have been boosted by away series wins in Pakistan and Zimbabwe in the past year, and Delany is confident: ‘If we play to our potential we can win the tournament.’

The side features as strong a top order as Ireland have ever fielded, including Gaby Lewis (23), Amy Hunter (18) and Orla Prendergast (21) who despite their ages are all highly-experienced internationals. Lewis was first capped at 13 and already has an incredible 136 caps.

Delany is top of that list however, and credits her family with her love of the game. He father Paul was a senior player and international coach, brother Gareth is on the Ireland men’s team, as was cousin David.

‘It’s a bit like a lot of Irish cricketing families, like the O’Briens or the Joyces where you’re brought down to a club during the summer because one of your parents is involved and you inevitably take it up. Dad was always passionate about it, and mum spent a huge amount of time volunteering just like every other family does in every other club.

‘Growing up, hockey was my main sport and I had a few trials for Irish teams. But I got picked for Irish underage cricket sides and made my progression and once you get a taste for international cricket you just want to make it a regular thing.’

Her first taste actually came courtesy of dad, who was Ireland coach back in 2010. She debuted in the same game against New Zealand as two other future greats. Delany senior’s selection of Kim Garth (114 caps, plus 24 for Australia), Mary Waldron (184) and Laura (200 and counting) must go down as one of the most inspired picks ever.

‘I was a bit of an annoying teenager at the time and it was a little bit embarrassing that my dad was coaching’, laughs Delany. ‘He coached one trip and stepped away shortly after. He's always been coaching me, always there if I need throw-downs, and he knows how I think.’

She came into a side packed with strong senior players. ‘They had so much experience and we looked up to them, I wanted to try to achieve the same level of success.’

Delany’s finest moment with the ball came in the play-off at Claremont Road for a place at the 2014 World Cup. With one over left, Netherlands needed just eight to win, and captain Isobel Joyce had a problem: ‘I remember looking around the field, trying to decide who to bowl. I knew Kim Garth still had an over left but I felt her extra pace was a negative, plus Kim wasn't making eye contact and looked like she really didn't want the ball.

‘It was an easy choice, really. Dellers is one of the most competitive people I have ever met and has a steeliness to her which you would never expect when you first meet her. Her first ball was a wide. “Oh God, what have I done”, I thought. But she came good and managed to just get hit for five in the over, and we won by two runs.’

Delany’s competitiveness is a feature of her game, as current head coach Ed Joyce notes: ‘I’ve never met anyone as competitive as her in any team I’ve been in. Even in a mess game at the end of a session she tries so hard to win.’

When Cecilia and Isobel Joyce, Clare Shillington and Ciara Metcalfe all retired after the 2016 World Cup, Delany was promoted.

‘When those players stepped away, as captain I found that really challenging. The squad changed hugely when they stepped away which I found pretty daunting.At the time I didn’t admit I was nervous but I was super nervous, probably for the next 18-24 months!

‘I was given this opportunity to lead the team but I didn't know how to do that. So I had to learn what type of captain or leader I wanted to be.

‘I wish I had known that I wasn't expected to know everything. My role as captain then was completely different - it was getting everyone to buy into the team culture that we wanted to create and work towards goals, whereas now my role is more helping to develop younger players and share some of the experiences that I've learned.’

Ed Joyce notes that Delany’s greatest strength is her willingness to learn: ‘She always wants to understand cricket more and to get better. She also has the ability to keep calm and perform under pressure with ball in hand.

‘She really cares for her team. She’s very good at bringing in and bringing on young players. It’s an exciting time for her as we have such a talented group around, and she could easily play another five, six, seven years if she stays fit.’

Their side has had some success, chalking up wins over Pakistan, South Africa, Bangladesh and Zimbabwe.

‘Beating Pakistan away was a highlight,’ Delany says. ‘A lot of players hadn’t experienced subcontinent conditions, where the ball turns a lot more and pitches are a lot lower, conditions you can’t replicate in Dublin.

Tours to Zimbabwe and Pakistan were important in building the team culture of support for each other. ‘You spend so much time away as a group – it’s not like hockey or football when you’re away for a few days, we’re away for four weeks at a time, and we were restricted to the hotel mostly.’

The team didn’t see much of Pakistan besides the hotel and the ground, riding between on bulletproof buses with the entire route closed to traffic.

Delany came away with an insight into the lot of a Pakistani woman cricketer: ‘The opportunities they have are very different to ours. Their culture is very different, and females are treated as second-class citizens over there and don’t really have a voice. It’s hard to hear that kind of stuff but to an extent we’re fighting the same battles in a very different way.’

She is also conscious of being part of a wave in Irish women's sport. ‘That football game was amazing with 33,000 at it, and to see the support that hockey and rugby get from their governing bodies is brilliant. There’s a certain onus on female athletes to help push that as much as they can. There's a lot of work to be done but it’s definitely changing for women’s sport.’