T20 World Cup: Ireland captain Andrew Balbirnie ‘worried’ about postponement

Andrew Balbirnie captained the Ireland Twenty20 team against West Indies in January

Ireland captain Andrew Balbirnie says his “gut feeling” is this year’s T20 World Cup in Australia will not take place as planned.

The International Cricket Council has confirmed plans to stage the event in October, despite the Covid-19 pandemic.

Balbirnie, 29, thinks logistical issues and a lack of international cricket may force the ICC into a postponement.

“I’d be worried the tournament wouldn’t go ahead,” Balbirnie told BBC Radio Ulster’s Sportsound Extra Time.

“You have to look at it logistically – there would be 16 teams flying into the country.

“The way this pandemic has panned out, a lot can happen in a couple of days, so we really don’t know yet. It’s tricky, but we’re battling on.”

Balbirnie says a lack of competitive action over the coming weeks and months will leave players ill-prepared for the 16-team tournament.

Ireland’s schedule has already been upended by the pandemic, with their six-game tour of Zimbabwe and seven-match series against Bangladesh called off.

“It’s going to be a unique situation,” said the batsman.

“There won’t have been any international cricket this summer at all, so there will be a lot of people going in undercooked.

“When we get back training, we will have to be really specific as to what we want to do.”

Balbirnie (right) assumed the Ireland captaincy from Gary Wilson (left)

Balbirnie added that the first few months of his Twenty20 captaincy since succeeding Gary Wilson in November have been “strange” given the global sporting shutdown.

“I had a couple of months before my first day in January when I had two tours, and now it’s been two or three months since my last game,” he said.

“It’s definitely more sporadic than I hoped it would be.

“Certainly that first game in the West Indies, there was a long build-up. I would say it was too long for me. I would have liked to have got stuck in straight away, but we had an exciting group to go out to the Caribbean, one of the nicest places to play cricket.

“The one-day series didn’t really go to plan, but I thought we were good in the T20 series in patches, and I suppose seeing some guys come in who haven’t played a lot of international cricket and seeing first-hand how they go about their business – not shying away from a fight – was really reassuring.”

A pawn in the Balbirnie family chess hierarchy

Like the rest of the sporting world, Balbirnie has been challenged with filling his days during the lockdown.

That has included participating in virtual batting masterclasses with Irish cricket clubs as well as constructing a giant chess board on in his garden using empty beer bottles as pawns and Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp’s biography as his king.

“The days are mixing into weeks and months at this stage, so we got the old chess board out of the attic,” he said.

“A week or two after that, we got a bit more creative and last week we set it up on our deck. I think I had six or seven empty bottles of Moretti as pawns, Jurgen Klopp’s biography as my king.

“I was playing my dad and he had a picture of my mum as his queen, so it was pretty creative.

“Unfortunately, I’ve lost to him. We’ve played about 10 times, so I think I’m going to shut up shop.”

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