Ireland captain lauds Paul Stirling after Pakistan loss

Paul Stirling
Paul Stirling was Ireland's star performer at Stormont on Monday

Skipper William Porterfield believes the emergence of young players like Paul Stirling proves that Irish cricket is on the rise.

Stirling underlined his growing reputation with an impressive century in Ireland's defeat to Pakistan.

"Paul has come through the system and has a bright future," said Porterfield.

"He's come through our under-age groups, he's learned all his cricket here and that proves what we can produce and what we are producing."

Ireland lost by five wickets in Belfast on Monday despite Stirling's ton.

It was the 20-year-old's first century against a full-member nation and his second in three games after he blazed a 70-ball 100 in Ireland's final World Cup game against Holland.

Teenage spinner George Dockrell also impressed on the sub-continent and with Eoin Morgan's continued progress as a valuable English player, Ireland's youth programme appears in good health.

"We all know what Paul can do in the squad, and people around Ireland know what he can do," added Porterfield.

"He's just showcasing his talent now. But also outside him we are getting a lot more depth in our squad.

"We were missing Niall O'Brien and George (Dockrell) in this series, but lads have come in and stepped up to the mark which has been great.

"Hopefully that production line can continue on and move Irish cricket to where it wants to be."

The 2-0 series defeat to Pakistan proved that consistency is still an issue after the Irish were skittled for 96 in the opening game before running the World Cup finalists close on Monday.

But with more exposure to the top teams, Ireland will also play Sri Lanka and England this summer, Porterfield believes his young team will bridge the gap.

"We showed in the second game with the way we came back that we have it in us - we just have to do that every time we play.

"Saturday was an off day, it's the way you bounce back from them.

"Paul was explosive when he wanted to be and once he got out of those first powerplays he still knocked it about.

"At the same time he still managed to find the boundary when we needed one.

"It is a skill in itself to be able to hit boundaries in those middle overs against a quality attack.

"If he can go out and construct his innings like he did he is going to score a lot of runs against quality teams.

"That can only be good for us in the future."