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Paul Stirling to play in the Afghanistan Premier League

Richard White (NCU PRO)  

Irish international and Northern Knights cricketer Paul Stirling will play for the Kandahar Knights, a franchise team established for the inaugural year of the Afghanistan Premier League (APL) T20 competition, to be held in the United Arab Emirates. He will be joined by fellow Irish International, Kevin O'Brien.

Belfast born Stirling, 28, fresh from completing another successful season with English County side Middlesex, was picked up in the player draft on the 10 September.

"I am looking forward to getting out and joining high-quality players from different countries and backgrounds to see how they go about their business in T20 cricket."

"I played with [Kandahar Knights captain] Brendon McCullum previously at Middlesex. Brendon is a very relaxed character who gets the best out of his players by giving them the ability to play with freedom and without fear of failure. He's someone who leads from the front and sets the example - which we saw during the recent Caribbean Premier League campaign where he captained his side to their second successive title. Hopefully he can help do the same with Kandahar."

"Another old team mate Wahab Riaz is in the Kandahar squad as well. He's bowled some of the fastest spells I've seen, so I expect he'll play a huge role on the Sharjah pitch that doesn't usually offer much to the bowlers."

Asked about whether participation in such T20 tournaments would benefit the national team, Stirling said:

"With the World T20 Qualifier around the corner next year, I think it's really important to have Irish players at these tournaments, bringing the experiences gained back into the Ireland set-up."

"We've seen how it has improved the Afghanistan side inside two years where they have had a handful of players play in the Big Bash and Indian Premier League getting used to playing day-in day-out against the best in the world, in front of full houses and always on TV."

"Hopefully Ireland can produce more and more cricketers who can play in these competitions in the future to keep up with how quickly this format of the game is progressing."