Gaby Lewis to captain Ireland in South Africa series; Arlene Kelly named in 14-member squad

Gaby Lewis © Cricket Ireland/ Cody Glenn/Sportsfile

Gaby Lewis has been named the captain of Ireland in the absence of regular skipper Laura Delany as Cricket Ireland named a 14-member squad for the South Africa series on Wednesday (May 25). Delany is still recovering from an injury and won’t be available for the six-match series along with a host of other players.

Apart from Delany, pace-bowling allrounder Orla Prendergast, Rebecca Stokell, and Hannah Little have been omitted from the squad due to injury. Eimear Richardson is also another notable name missing as she is not available for the series.

New Zealand-born Arlene Kelly, who plays for Auckland Hearts in domestic cricket, is one of the four uncapped players in the side. Kelly has an Irish passport and has been playing in the on going Super Series 50 Cup. She made a match-winning contribution in her debut for Dragons with a 60-run knock and a three-wicket haul.

“Despite the introduction of contracts, we have a large portion of this year’s performance squad in education and completing important exams at the time of this series. In addition, Eimear Richardson was unavailable for this series and a number of key players are rehabilitating from injuries, including Laura Delany, Rebecca Stokell, Orla Prendergast and Hannah Little,” Carrie Archer, chair of selectors, said.

“With the long-term in mind, particularly with the significant volume of international cricket ahead, we believe that it was more important to adhere to player’s treatment plans than to try and rush them back.”

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21-year-old Lewis will be captaining Ireland for the first time. But she has plenty of international experience having made her debut as a 13-year-old. She is currently the captain of Scorchers in the Super Series.

“While it’s unfortunate that we are without our skipper Laura Delany, it’s an absolute honour to be asked to captain Ireland for the first time. The opportunity to take on one of the world’s leading sides is one I am relishing, and I know the squad is looking forward to the challenge,” Lewis said.

“One of the benefits of a competitive domestic Super Series is that – even with up to nine players missing – we are still able to bring in a talented group of players as cover, showing that we are growing our player pool and developing our emerging talent in the right way.”

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Alana Dalzell, Sarah Forbes, and Kate McEvoy are the other uncapped members of the squad. Pacer Jane Maguire is yet to make her T20I debut, having had her first game in ODIs when she took the field against Zimbabwe in October last year.

“We will be facing one of the world’s top-ranked teams, and this is our first outing in the ICC Championship. While the selectors had met a number of weeks ago to confirm the squad, the further injury to Orla Prendergast forced us to consider options that would maintain our competitiveness on the field. As such, despite only recently arriving in Ireland, we have included Arlene Kelly for this series. Arlene brings a wealth of experience and adds depth to the squad as an allrounder. Her immediate impact upon the Arachas Super Series demonstrated her talent and as an Irish passport-holder she is available to declare for Ireland immediately,” Archer added.

“Despite the challenges, the squad will still feature a number of senior players who have a wealth of experience – Gaby Lewis, Shauna Kavanagh and Mary Waldron have 335 caps between them. We wish Gaby and her team the best for the challenge ahead and have no doubt under Ed Joyce’s leadership they will have prepared meticulously.”

Squad: Gaby Lewis (captain), Alana Dalzell, Rachel Delaney, Georgina Dempsey, Sarah Forbes, Shauna Kavanagh, Arlene Kelly, Sophie MacMahon, Jane Maguire, Kate McEvoy, Cara Murray, Leah Paul, Celeste Raack, Mary Waldron.