Mark Adair, one of the stars of the opening round of games in the Teset Triangle Inter-provincial Cup this week, “can be anything he wants to be”.
That’s the opinion of his provincial skipper Gary Wilson on the 23-year-old Ireland Wolves all-rounder who, weather-permitting, makes his club debut with Robinson Services Premier League champions CIYMS today.
Adair may not have been the highest run-scorer in windy La Manga this week but he was certainly the fastest, hitting 44 off 15 balls in Northern Knights’ victory over North West Warriors on Wednesday and, 24 hours later, smashing 31 off 12 balls, including four sixes in an over off Ireland international Peter Chase, against Leinster Lightning.
His pace bowling wasn’t too shabby either with three wickets in his first 20 balls against the Warriors followed by the scalp of Lightning century-maker Andrew Balbirnie, albeit at a cost of 65 runs, as the holders made a winning start to their fifth successive 50-over title defence.
But Wilson’s praise came with a warning to the still uncapped former Warwickshire professional. “Mark’s got all the tools and if he had the same attitude off the pitch as when he has got the ball in his hand he would have 40 caps for Ireland by now,” said Wilson, Ireland’s Twenty20 captain.
“The ball is 100% in his court with regard to that, certainly in Twenty20 cricket. There’s absolutely no doubting his talent, he is still getting better, but he has to put in the hours away from what you see out there. “But if he does that, then I have no doubt he will have a huge future in Irish cricket which everyone wants to see.”
The Ireland squad are certainly in need of big hitters down the order in the shortest format. The main reason why they have slumped down the rankings in recent years is the failure to build on fast starts by Paul Stirling, for example, and this year at the quadrangular tournament in Oman by Kevin O’Brien, who has been promoted to opener alongside Stirling. His elevation, however, leaves an absence in the closing overs and if Adair gets the chance and can transfer his power-hitting onto the international stage, then he could fill that huge void and Ireland could have a T20 star on their hands.
Ireland Wolves captain Harry Tector was another to impress for the Knights in Spain, hitting 36 off 14 balls against, admittedly, disappointing Warriors bowling, although he hit only one six — Adair cleared the boundary six times in the same innings.
Wilson’s club team-mate, Civil Service opener Marc Ellison, also hit five maximums over the two days and was comfortably top scorer in each match with 87 and 85, one of the many positives for Wilson as he looked back at the week in La Manga.
“There were a lot of good performances. Marc Ellison was brilliant over the two days, and although the wicket was a lot different in the second match when it got a lot easier I thought the bowling was sometimes very good. Probably our best bowler was Graham McCarter, who hasn’t got a (inter-pro) contract! Harry Tector also bowled nicely on Wednesday and got his five-for — and batted well,” he said.
A low point for Knights was James Shannon’s reaction to his dismissal, for 34, on Thursday. After being given out leg before wicket, Wilson’s predecessor as captain threw his bat and gloves towards the players’ tent after crossing the boundary rope and he will be charged with dissent in the umpires’ report. A one-match ban, at least, seems certain to follow.