A former New Zealand Under 19 World Cup captain is back on these shores and hoping to play a pivotal role as the Northern Knights aim for interprovincial silverware.
Marc Ellison, a former overseas player at both CSNI and Malahide, has returned from New Zealand with his young family, taking up employment here while also turning out again for the Stormont club.
The ambitious Ellison is training with the Knights. He told CricketEurope how he got involved in the interprovincial set-up.
“I've always kept in touch with Nigel Jones while being back home in New Zealand,” said Ellison. “When deciding to move back to Belfast, I made it clear to Jonesy that I still ambitions to fulfil a childhood dream and play professional cricket. He put me in touch with Simon Johnston and we caught up a couple of times to talk through what his plans with the Knights are and what my point of difference as a player is.
“I joined in the training before Christmas and am delighted to be part of the winter training squad. That's the first step in the process. Now it's about getting outside my comfort zone in training, seeking advice on how I can improve my game and put my best foot forward to be selected for the Knights this summer.”
Ellison enjoyed some success in the longer formats of the game in New Zealand. Was he keen to play in all three formats for the Knights, or did the first-class Championship offer his best chance of success?
“Each format of the game brings about different challenges and I'm looking forward to honing my game for each format to be in contention for all three,” said the 31 year-old. “As a batsman, you want to be batting for as long as you can. The opportunity to make big scores, double hundreds, is there in first-class cricket. Making sizable contributions with the bat and helping the Knights win games is my aim.”
Leinster Lightning have dominated the interprovincial landscape, winning 13 of the 15 trophies on offer. Can he help change the current dynamic and end Dublin domination?
“That's certainly what we're working towards. There were lessons learned last season and Simon is ensuring we focus on these to ensure we are better prepared to handle pressure and win more games of cricket."
Ellison’s multi-day experience could be a crucial element in the Knights’ armoury. What qualities will he bring to the squad if selected?
“In New Zealand, we play two-day club cricket, 96 overs a day. That gives you the opportunity to bat for an entire day.
“I've been fortunate enough to play three-day cricket for a couple of provincial 2nd XIs back home too. Those experiences and knowing I've batted for three sessions in the past stands me in good stead with the Knights.
“I also believe I bring a strong understanding of what types of behaviours help contribute to successful teams.
“Ultimately, if you have a team full of people who understand their role within the team, are empowered to fulfill that role and feel valued within the environment, then you're going to have a successful side.”
Ellison accepts that the onus is on him personally to put a strong case for inclusion to Knights Head Coach Simon Johnston, but a place in the winter training programme is a good start.
“I know it's up to me to take every opportunity presented to me at Knights trainings, club cricket and any pre-season fixtures to give myself the best chance of selection. It's a really exciting time to be involved and I'm enjoying every minute of it.”
The Northern Knights first game of the season is a three-day match against Ireland Wolves at Stormont starting on May 1st.
Where better than Ellison’s home turf to launch his interprovincial career?