Ian Callender (Belfast Telegraph)
IRELAND Wolves may have failed to win either the 50-over or rain-affected T20 series against Scotland A but Pete Johnston was a satisfied Wolves coach as he looked back on an intense eight days in Co Wicklow.
“It’s always competitive playing the Scots and losing Stephen Doheny in the first game through injury was a loss as was not having TK (Tyrone Kane) with the ball in the T20s, but the objective was to put out a team that would be challenged, include some new faces and I think we got the balance right,” said Johnston.
While it may look embarrassing for a Full Member to lose the three-match 50-overs series and draw the shorter format, the priority was the development of Irish cricket.
“We could have picked Simi Singh, Barry McCarthy, Andy McBrine — fringe players on the senior side — but for us we wanted to give players below that an opportunity and look to speed up the development of some players that we see with talent,” added the coach.
“When we selected the team we weren’t really looking at what team would win us the series, instead we picked a young side. If you take out Craig Young the average age was around the 20 mark, so it was ideal for us.”
It proved the ideal series for Young who has lost his place in the Ireland side — it is now exactly a year since he played the last of his 43 internationals — but Johnston believes the North Down pace bowler is on his way back.
“At the end of the (Wolves) Sri Lanka series in the winter Craig was in a bad place, but since he has come home he has a new perspective on life in general, not putting himself under too much pressure,” said Johnston.
“He has worked hard, his action and run-up look good and he is like a new man with the ball so that’s why it was important to play him and hopefully that can push him on. He bowled well.”
Other positives in the words of the coach were Shane Getkate who “looks the real deal in white ball cricket and was brilliant with bat and ball”, 16-year-old Nathan McGuire “looks at home at this level and can handle pace bowling well” and Gareth Delany “had a good series with the ball, consistent and threatening, and hit one very good 50 down the order”.
“Lorcan Tucker also had a couple of good knocks, Harry Tector had a good partnership with Lorcan and was looking good yesterday and he captained well, getting a lot of experience, and is well respected by the guys.”
The Wolves have just one more match this season, a warm-up game for Zimbabwe ahead of their one-day and T20 series against Ireland.
That 50-over game will be played at Eglinton on June 29 when the Wolves will be looking to repeat their victory over Bangladesh who went on to win the Tri-series in Dublin in May.
Ollie Metcalfe made his debut for the Wolves in the T20s this week but it was back to school yesterday to play for RBAI in the Schools Cup semi-final at BRA.
After facing the Scotland A attack, it was much gentler fare at the Castle Grounds and, unsurprisingly, the opening batsman dominated the action before he was sixth out at 154 in the 20th over for 126, having hit 10 fours and eight sixes from 67 balls.
Four overs later, however, the rain arrived and the game was abandoned, to be replayed at Osborne Park.