INTERVIEW: Gaby Lewis and Leah Paul on their successful opening partnership in Zimbabwe
HARARE, Zimbabwe – Gaby Lewis and Leah Paul may be Ireland Women’s new One-Day international opening pair, but they are not so new to each other – and it’s the strong bond that formed between them at the domestic level that is now translating on the international stage as Ireland seek a series victory.
With Ireland Women on the verge of potentially winning their first bilateral ODI series away from home when they take on Zimbabwe tomorrow morning, one of the biggest positives to come from the tour so far has been the opening partnership that has formed at international level between Lewis and Paul. The pair have put on opening stands of 28, 135 and 145 in the three matches to date on this tour – the latter two respectively being the fourth-highest and second-highest opening stands in ODI cricket for Ireland Women.
However, while the pairing is a new innovation at the international level, right-handed Lewis and left-handed Paul have built their batting rapport at the domestic Super Series level, most notably in the 50-over Cup format.
In 2020, Paul (295 runs at an average of 49.17) and Lewis (249 runs at an average of 35.57) led the Scorchers from the top of the order to finish first and second respectively in the competitions run scoring department. While Paul had a more circumspect season in 2021 (85 runs at 17.00), Lewis struck 332 runs at 66.40 – almost twice the competition run aggregate of the nearest batter. Despite the discrepancy in individual scores, the pairs contributions at the top of the order proved valuable to their team with partnerships of 74, 106 and 87 in three of the five completed matches.
As a result, close observers of the Irish game won’t be surprised by the successful partnership between the 20-year old Lewis and 22-year old Paul on this tour – but will be pleased that the potential they offer is now being recognised on the global stage.
On the tour to date, Lewis has struck scores of 24, 65 and 96* (185 runs at 92.50), while Paul has registered scores of 13, 95 and 63 (171 runs at 57.00).
Speaking ahead of tomorrow’s fourth and final match of the current ODI series, Lewis said:
“I absolutely love batting with Leah - we haven’t really batted with each other at the international level before, but we have built up a strong bond during the Super Series - so to carry that through has been great. We know each other’s roles well and seem to complement each other.”
“Pauly has been brilliant on this tour so far - she’s really shown what a good player she is and what a confident player she has become. We have built trust in each other and that’s what really helped us form the opening partnership we have - and hopefully will continue to do in the long run.”
“The batting conditions out here have been quite nice and the pitches pretty good. The first two matches seemed to have been played on new pitches, but yesterday’s was cracking a little and turned a bit more. The Zimbabwean spinners got a bit of turn out of them, but we played them well and just waited for those over-pitched balls to hit.”
“Conditions haven’t meant a need to change my game much, just the heat and fatigue means you have to concentrate that little bit more. Obviously in T20 cricket I would typically play more aggressively and look for runs, but in this longer format I have been more patient and trusting of my instincts - playing each ball as it comes and sticking to my processes - which seems to have worked well for me so far.”
“It’s also been great to have a coach like Ed Joyce to work with - his knowledge and experience has been invaluable and he gives the batting unit a lot of confidence going into matches like these.”
“It has nice to spend some time in the middle – especially with Gaby - and contribute some runs to a couple of team wins. We were so disappointed with how we bowled and fielded in the first game, so it was great to bounce back and put a solid performance in next two games. The challenge of opening the bowling in the longer format has also been a challenge, but one I’m enjoying greatly.”
The final ODI between Ireland Women and Zimbabwe Women starts at 9.30am (Harare time) tomorrow and will be available to watch via Zimbabwe Cricket’s YouTube channel.
Laura Delany (captain), Zara Craig, Georgina Dempsey, Sarah Forbes, Amy Hunter, Shauna Kavanagh, Gaby Lewis, Sophie MacMahon, Jane Maguire, Cara Murray, Leah Paul, Orla Prendergast, Celeste Raack, Rebecca Stokell, Mary Waldron.
• 5 October 2021: Zimbabwe Women v Ireland Women – 1st ODI (scorecard)
• 7 October 2021: Zimbabwe Women v Ireland Women – 2nd ODI (scorecard)
• 9 October 2021: Zimbabwe Women v Ireland Women – 3rd ODI (scorecard)
• 11 October 2021: Zimbabwe Women v Ireland Women – 4th ODI (Harare Sports Club)