Stirling's charges struggle ahead of T20 tournament
Paul Stirling will be hoping that back-to-back defeats in practice matches over the weekend has shaken the winter rust from his Ireland side ahead of their opening match in the T20 quadrangle series against hosts Oman on Wednesday.
Stirling, who is captaining Ireland for the first time in the absence of Gary Wilson, saw his charges hammered by four wickets with 28 balls to spare by an Oman Development XI on Saturday before losing by two wickets yesterday in the final over.
The 28-year-old skipper is comfortably Ireland's best T20 batsman and holds the key to success in Oman as he showed in the two practice games: going for eight as the Boys in Green limped to 112-8 on Saturday followed by a strident 78 from 48 balls, including three sixes, in a far more competitive total of 170-6 yesterday.
Meanwhile, Mark Wood ended England's long wait for a bowler capable of blistering pace, breaching 94mph during an exhilarating career-best haul on day two of the third West Indies Test.
Wood was a bowler reborn on his Test comeback, regularly hitting breakneck speeds as he claimed five for 41 and had the home batsmen running for cover for the first time this series.
The 29-year-old did the heavy lifting yesterday as England bowled the Windies out for 154 and ended their best day of a torrid tour 142 ahead with Keaton Jennings and Rory Burns reaching 19 without loss.