Paul Stirling © Getty Images
Paul Stirling © Getty Images

Paul Robert Stirling, born September 3, 1990, hails from Ireland and one of the finest young talents in the international circuit. Of stout stature, Stirling is immensely powerful and hits the ball quite hard. On his 27th birthday, Suvajit Mustafi looks at 14 points about the Ireland star.

 1.  It runs in the family

Paul Stirling hails from a sporting family. His father Brian, a primary school headmaster, played cricket for Irish Schools and Ulster Town, but more importantly, he was an international Rugby Union referee. Richard Brian Stirling, Paul’s elder brother, represented Ireland in Under-19s World Cup 2005-06.

2.  International debut as a teenager

Considered a teen prodigy, a 17-year-old Stirling made his international debut against New Zealand in a One-Day International (ODI) in 2008. Chasing New Zealand’s mammoth 403, Stirling was promoted to No. 3. Unfortunately, he perished for 4.

3.  First-Class hundred

A few months prior to his international debut, Stirling played made his First-Class debut for Ireland. Despite his indifferent form, Ireland persisted with the teenager. Stirling repaid the faith with a maiden ton against Kenya in the opening match of ICC Intercontinental Cup 2009. 

4.  Contract with Middlesex

In December 2009, aged only 19, Stirling signed a three-year contract with Middlesex. In the process he became a teammate of former Ireland cricketer and current England limited-overs captain Eoin Morgan. 

5.  Prestigious nominations

In ICC Awards 2010, Stirling was nominated in both Emerging Player of the Year and Associate and Affiliate Player of the Year categories.  He was the only associate member to be nominated in the Emerging Player category; the others all came from the Test-playing nations.

 6.  Highest ODI score for Ireland

Stirling scored his maiden ODI hundred in September 2010. He butchered 177 from just 134 balls against Canada with 21 fours and 5 sixes. Ireland won by 92 runs. Stirling’s 177 remains the highest by an Irish batsman in ODIs. 

7.  The then fourth-fastest World Cup hundred

Ireland had beaten England in World Cup 2011; they also beat Netherlands in the tournament. Chasing 307 at Eden Gardens Stirling stitched a 177-run opening stand with his captain William Porterfield. He scored 101 from 72 balls, helping Ireland win with 14 balls to spare. Stirling’s hundred from 70 balls was then the fourth-fastest ton in the World Cup history.

8.  Five ODI tons before turning 23

The strong right-hander can take pride in his unique feat of notching up five ODI hundreds before turning 23. Though 12 others have done the same, Stirling is the only one to do this from an Associate Nation. 

9.  Breaking into the top 10

In an interview with Cricket Ireland, Stirling said that it was always his dream as a kid to be amongst the top 10 batsmen in world. At the young age of 22, he did live that when he moved to 8th on the ICC ODI batsmen ranking in May 2013. Now that’s quite an achievement for a cricketer coming from an Associate nation. 

10.  Nelson heroics

In World Cup 2015 Stirling continued displaying his likeness for big occasions. In Ireland’s opening game against West Indies Stirling’s 92 from 84 balls at the top inspired the Irish chase as they won it in the 46th over. Fittingly, he was the Man of the Match.

11.  Ability against the red ball

No one doubts Stirling ability to play the white ball. Unfortunately, his record in First-Class cricket has not been impressive, which meant his outings for Middlesex has been limited. However, he got an extended run in County Championship 2014. Playing aside big boys like Chris Rogers, Eoin Morgan, Dawid Malan and Sam Robson, Stirling scored 351 runs from 6 matches at 43.87. He was consistent and scored four fifties, and what was more special was the fact he showed patience. However, he hasn’t really fired this season. 

12.  An useful off-spinner

He is a more than handy off-break bowler and has 29 ODI wickets. In T20Is cricket he has 45 wickets in this format at 23.42 and an extremely impressive economy rate of 6.62. 

13.  The stand with Balbirnie

Playing for Middlesex Second XI earlier this year, Stirling and fellow Irishman Andrew Balbirnie tore into Glamorgan Second XI. They came together at 63 for 1 and added 388 in 417 balls. While Balbirnie scored a 259-ball 205, Stirling played the more outrageous of the two knocks — a whopping 241-ball 254.

14.  Franchise cricket

It’s a surprise that a player of Stirling’s calibre hasn’t played in IPL. However, he has appeared for Sylhet Royals in the BPL.