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‘A really difficult decision’ – Paul Stirling opens up about leaving Middlesex

by Wisden Staff 2 minute read

Paul Stirling, who chose to leave Middlesex and commit to Ireland after being classified as an overseas player in the County Championship, said he was torn between club and country while making the decision.

As Ireland now play Test cricket, ECB classifies Irish internationals as ‘overseas’ players rather than ‘local’. With counties allowed only one overseas player in Championship games, it makes it difficult for Ireland players to tie down county deals. They are left with two choices: retire from international cricket and sign deals to represent their county, or play for Ireland at the cost of a county contract.

Stirling, although he has a British passport, opted for the latter. “It was a really difficult decision, he told Telegraph Sport. “I have played for over a decade and Middlesex and Ireland had a 50-50 standing in my own heart and head. But it is tough to turn down international cricket and playing against the best in the world and touring around the world, that is what sealed it, but London has been a home for me since 2009. I have enjoyed every minute.

Stirling will part with Middlesex after 10 years with the county side, having scored 1662 runs for them in 42 first-class appearances. The 29-year-old has admitted that he finds it “strange” and “baffling” that despite having a British passport, he will now be considered an overseas player.

“The powers that be have made the decision to change the regulations but I can see it is a strange scenario when you are born British and have entitlement to work as a local in your own country, so I can see why it could be challenged and it would be interesting to see how far it would go if someone did challenge it,” he admitted.

“It would be nice to be able to play county cricket in the future in white-ball cricket and that would be a lot easier if I did not have an overseas tag. I get it from their point of view but it is slightly more complicated than that in our case. Middlesex has been my home for so long so it does feel baffling to have to go, but hopefully, I will be able to play in some capacity in the future.”

Stirling is keen to play The Hundred and the T20 Blast

Stirling, who is the third-highest run-scorer for Middlesex in T20 cricket, hopes to grab an overseas contract in The Hundred next year, or the T20 Blast. He thinks the logistics will work in his favour if a team is looking for a short-term replacement.

“I would love to keep playing in England. It suits my style of cricket,” he said. “Maybe someone will pick me up and do a good job as a lesser price tag,” he said.

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