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Stirling only Irish ace sold in Afghan Premier League

 

By Ian Callender ·

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Big hit: Paul Stirling will play for Kandahar

Paul Stirling will be the only Ireland representative at the inaugural Afghanistan Premier League next month.

Stirling, the one Irish Gold category player, was snapped up by Kandahar, one of the five franchises which will take part in the T20 competition from October 5-21. All the games will take place in Sharjah.

It was in the UAE that Stirling was an instant success in the first ever T10 tournament last year, and that reputation - plus his career record against Afghanistan, which includes seven 50s and a century - promoted him to Gold status.

Stirling seems likely to open the batting with big-hitting New Zealander Brendan McCollum, the Icon Player who Kandahar bought, with England's Tymal Mills and Sam Billings and Afghanistan captain Ashgar Afghan among his other team-mates.

There were no takers, however, for the other six Ireland players in the draft, with William Porterfield, Andrew Balbirnie, Gary Wilson, Kevin O'Brien, George Dockrell and Boyd Rankin all unsold along with more than 300 other hopefuls.

There are four senior internationals in the Ireland Wolves team which completes the representative summer with a four-day game against Gloucestershire II at Bristol CC today.

After being omitted from most Ireland matches this season, James Shannon, Tyrone Kane, Lorcan Tucker and Craig Young get the chance to impress in red-ball cricket.

Kane did play in the highlight of the season, the inaugural Test match against Pakistan in May, but has featured in just one T20 since; Young's only appearance was in the first T20 international in the Netherlands; Shannon played in all six games in that tri-series; while the last of Tucker's four Ireland caps was in March last year.

Jack Tector is captain in the absence of his brother Harry, who heads to Australia for the winter on Friday, while James McCollum and Nathan Smith, closer to promotion than most, will do their ambitions no harm with big performances.

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Big hit: Paul Stirling will play for Kandahar