Andrew Balbirnie: New Ireland skipper's 'double-check' after captaincy call

Andrew Balbirnie
Andrew Balbirnie's first match as captain will be in January 2020

Ireland's new Test and ODI captain Andrew Balbirnie hopes his leadership style will inspire his team-mates both on and off the field.

Balbirnie was selected for the role after long-serving skipper William Porterfield stepped down as captain earlier this month.

"I wasn't shocked, but I had to double-check because I had frozen a bit," said the Dubliner on Sportsound Extra Time.

"I had to wait for them to say it again and I was just like 'I'll do it'."

Porterfield, who will continue playing, led the side 253 times after taking over from Trent Johnston in 2008.

Balbirnie made Ireland debut in 2010

Balbirnie made his international debut in 2010 and has appeared 123 times for Ireland.

His first international match as captain will be on 7 January 2020 in a one-day international against West Indies in Barbados.

"I wanted to do it and I've probably wanted to do it since I captained the under-19s," added Balbirnie.

"William was in the job when I got into the team and he has been a stalwart for Irish cricket, both as a player and a captain.

"When the time came I wanted to make sure that my name was in the hat."

Andrew Balbirnie and William Porterfield
Andrew Balbirnie will take over Test and ODI captaincy from William Porterfield

'My style may be very different to William's'

Balbirnie's impressive development as a player over the past number of years made his an obvious chance to succeed Porterfield but the new skipper is mindful of the unique elements of cricket captaincy.

"It's not like rugby and football where you tend to go to your best player," continued Balbirnie.

"In cricket you are dealing with two different formats and a lot of players.

"You are on tour a lot so you have to manage a lot of players when you are away.

"You have to have a good relationship with the coaches to talk about the tactics that are involved.

"My style of captaincy may be very different to William's and a lot of guys have played under him for some time.

"It may take a bit of time to get used to for some of the players but I've known the guys a long time and I think I have everyone's backing.

"I want my performances to keep getting better so people can maybe look at me and get inspired.

"I want to be compassionate. I'm aware of how tough a game we play so it is going to be difficult and a lot of young guys are going to come up through the ranks.

"I want to nurture the young guys and make sure the transition into the senior team is made easier.

Balbirnie not worried his form will suffer

Balbirnie, who plays his club cricket for Leinster Lightning, says he isn't worried that leading Ireland will take away from his own performances.

"I'll just have to work out how to get around that," he said on a potential dip in form.

"If I've ever had a rut with the bat I have found out what I need to do to return to the level I want to be at.

"There's obviously going to be a lot going on with the captaincy with the pitch, the toss, telling guys they aren't playing and press conferences - but it worked for me in the past when I was underage captain.

"At the moment it's not a concern and I don't think that it will concern me. I'm just looking forward to getting into it."

Listen to Sportsound Extra Time with Nikki Gregg on Monday on BBC Radio Ulster at 18:05 GMT.

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