'It's massively disappointing': Balbirnie on playing without Stirling in 1st ODI against WI

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Kingston [Jamaica], January 8 (ANI): Ireland captain Andy Balbirnie expressed disappointment on batter Paul Stirling missing out from the first ODI against West Indies after testing positive for COVID-19.

Stirling had tested positive for COVID-19 along with Shane Getkate on December 31. Ireland and West Indies will be locking for the first ODI match on Saturday.

“It’s very strange [to be without Stirling]. I think I played a series against Scotland back in 2014 which was the last time I lined up in an ODI without him. It’s massively disappointing to lose him for the first game but at the same time it means someone has to step up now. We need to produce match-winners. Hopefully one of the young guys can have the experience of winning a game for Ireland, that’s why you play the game,” ESPNcricinfo quoted Balbirnie as saying.

Stirling and Getkate are expected to return to the Ireland squad on Sunday.

The skipper also said that the morale of the team is pretty good in Jamaica but the stress of playing during the pandemic is mentally draining.

“The morale is pretty good, it’s better than Florida. It was very difficult, some of us had to leave our family members in Florida and come here for this series. I was one of them. But as soon as we got into training and international series mode, your focus comes back. You can’t dwell too much on what’s happened. If you do that you’re going to some pretty dark places. We’re lucky we get these opportunities to bounce back on a regular basis,” said the skipper.

“Playing with Covid is more challenging off the pitch than on the pitch because you’re worrying about tests, then told to stay in the room till the tests come back and you’re told it’s going to be delayed and you’re literally sitting on the edge of your seat in your room wondering if you have it. At the same time we’ve got a job to do once we cross the white line, no matter what’s going on,” he added.

The second ODI will be played on Tuesday followed by the third ODI on January 14. Both the teams will then lock horns for the T20I series from January 17. (ANI)

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