Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Stirling: Ireland team spirit trumping contract issues

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Ireland captain Paul Stirling has insisted that ongoing contract negotiations between the players’ union and Cricket Ireland haven’t negatively impacted morale as the team prepare to face Pakistan in a T20 series, with the action getting under way at Clontarf on Friday.

The Irish Cricketers’ Association, which is batting for the players in the pay talks, last week opted to decline Cricket Ireland’s contract offer.

The Irish governing body has seen its coffers boosted by a cash injection from the International Cricket Council. However, the precise level of funding only became apparent in March and the team have fulfilled a number of fixtures in the interim under the terms of their expired contracts.

An unsatisfactory situation in a T20 World Cup year hasn’t been helped by the fact that the Cricket Ireland board only signed off on its projected annual budget last month, but Stirling has been taken by how his colleagues have responded to the uncertainty.

“I haven’t seen any sort of niggle around the squad” – Paul Stirling

The ICA is working for us as a players’ group, and we hear from them. I haven’t felt the frustration, but it’s possibly there,” the 33-year-old told RTÉ Sport.

“I think the thing I’m really proud of over the last weeks and months is that we have been able to put that stuff behind us.

“That could be a distraction, but it’s only a distraction if you make it one.

“I’m really proud of how the lads have gone in the last few months. I think they’ve made good strides.”

Stirling, who took over captaincy duties from Andrew Balbirnie last summer, added: “I haven’t seen any sort of niggle around the squad. Certainly when we’ve been together, I think there easily could have been if that’s the way players or characters were inclined.

“So I haven’t seen any of that, and I think it’s great that we’ve been able to focus on the cricket and put that aside.”

“We’re sticking as a unit on this” – Barry McCarthy

Seam bowler Barry McCarthy paid tribute to the role the ICA was playing in the contract talks and was buoyed by the collegiate approach players were supporting.

“We’re all very collective in the negotiations,” he said. “It’s obviously very frustrating for us as a group to have that in the background.

“The ICA is doing tremendous work to try and get the fairest compensation that we can as a group.

“We’re a group on this. The ICA is deliberating as the governing players’ union for us, doing its best to get the fairest compensation they can for the whole entire group, and we’re sticking as a unit on this.”

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