Paul Stirling‘s talent deserves to be seen by a worldwide audience more often, as evidenced by his spectacular form at the T10 League.
That is the view of Eoin Morgan, the England captain who is Stirling’s team-mate at Middlesex, as well as his captain at the Kerala Kings T10 franchise.
Kerala won the 10-over tournament at Sharjah Cricket Stadium on Sunday night, after chasing down Punjabi Legends’ target of 121 in the space of just eight overs.
The remarkable assault was led by Morgan and Stirling, who put on 113 together in 41 balls.
Over the course of the tournament, Stirling scored 181 runs in five matches, at an average of 90.50 and a strike-rate of 197. That was off the back of a century in an ODI against Afghanistan for Ireland at the same ground four days before the T10 League started.
Morgan believes Stirling’s talent has largely been hidden because of a relative lack of exposure his Ireland team had had before their recent elevation to Full Member status.
“I’ve played a lot with Paul, more so at Middlesex than anywhere else, and I have watched him come through,” Morgan said. “He is a hugely talented player, and I am really pleased for him that he has performed on a stage like this that is broadcast all around the world.
“It is fantastic for him, because potentially he doesn’t get the exposure that he should, being now a Test cricketer but back then an Associate cricketer. It is great to see him expose his talent.”
The tournament was, predictably, characterised by lusty hitting, but the final evening at a sold-out Sharjah Cricket Stadium was particularly savage.
Luke Ronchi hit a 35-ball 70 as Punjabi Legends made 120 for 3 from their 10 overs. That was not remotely near enough, though, once Morgan and Stirling were in harness.
Morgan reached his half-century in just 14 balls, and hit a six onto the top of the grandstand roof that measured 113 metres. He eventually got to 63 from 21 balls, but fell just before the win was sealed.
His display even garnered some respect from his opposition. Hasan Ali, who got by relatively unscathed with figures of 1 for 23 from his two overs, asked Morgan if he could have his bat after the game, so impressed was he by the distances he was reaching.
Stirling was delighted with his latest alliance with his county and former Ireland team-mate.
“I watched Eoin bat a lot when I was growing up, and he was always kind of an idol of mine and I wanted to emulate him, and go over and play for Middlesex,” Stirling said.
“For the last number of years it has been great to bat with him, and we seem to put on a few good partnerships together, especially in the recent years, so it was nice to get another one of those today.
“It is good fun. He is a nice, relaxed captain. There aren’t too many team meetings, not too many warm-ups. It is all individual – if you want to do it, you do it, and if you don’t, you don’t have to.
“It creates that relaxed environment that allows players to go out and perform at their best.”
Punjabi Legends only made it through to the semi-finals after Carlos Brathwaite hit the last ball of the round-robin phase for six, despite a defeat to Maratha Arabians. They then beat the previously unbeaten Pakhtoons to reach the final.
With Misbah-ul-Haq captaining the side, their run to the final had echoes of the late charge his Islamabad United side made to win the first Pakistan Super League.
“We were quite confident with the way we came back in this tournament, but obviously Kerala played the better cricket,” Misbah said. “They deserved to win it, but still I think what we achieved in this tournament, playing as the first time in T10, we are proud of it.”