Ireland captain Laura Delany has urged her young teammates to show the world what they can do at the T20 World Cup.
The Irish side are set to fly to South Africa for the tournament for four warm-up matches before their opener against England on February 13.
With an average age of 24 in the team, Delany (30) is excited about his World Cup prospects.
“We have a fairly young team, but they have grown in confidence and character over the past few years,” she said.
“Nothing illustrates this better than our tour of Pakistan at the end of last year when we lost the ODI series but bounced back to win the T20I series at the end of a difficult tour.
“I think we had a really good summer. We won series against the Netherlands and Scotland and then we had a really good performance against South Africa, winning one of the T20s at the start. June.
“So from a team point of view, everything is going in the right direction. From an individual point of view, some of the girls have performed very well over the last 12 months and I am delighted that they go show the world what they can do to the next level.
“We have a number of players with a lot of experience and a cohort of young players who have entered the senior setup over the last 18 months.
Ireland, who reached the World Cup through a tough qualifying tournament in Dubai last September, were drawn in Group B along with England, India, Pakistan and West Indies.
The team narrowly missed out on qualifying for the last World Cup and Delany, who will be playing in their fourth T20 World Cup, said she would use that as motivation in South Africa.
“It hurt us last time not qualifying for the T20 World Cup in Australia,” she said.
“It was tough for us as a team to watch those games, but the way we came back showed what this team is, our character, and we now relish the opportunity to go beyond and to play against some of the best teams in the world.
“The World Cup is where every team wants to be in any sport so we are really looking forward to it. There should be strong Irish support there because I know there is has families traveling to South Africa to support us, which is great.”
Delany has been captain for more than six years – this will be her second World Cup as skipper – but said the role still makes her very proud.
“To be able to make an impact and contribute to Irish cricket, I think every player on the team is very privileged to be there,” she explained.
“There are a lot of players who missed out and would love to go to South Africa with us – from a captain’s perspective it’s a challenge, but I love leading this group.
“There’s so much potential, they’re super enthusiastic and keep me on my toes – and they’re also continuing to push our senior players which is great. They’re a really competitive team at the moment.”