Former international and Ireland captain Alan Lewis selects his all-time Ireland squad.
Here is my list and please bear in mind a couple of things. It is clearly from the era I played between 1984 and 1997. I have stretched the touring party to 15 and like when I was a selector, I will leave it to the coach to decide on his XI for match day!
Alf Masood from arriving at the fence in Phoenix not understanding that we played cricket here to then compiling a stellar career. He was a class act at all levels. He loved scoring runs and was prolific as his record suggests. His was very good with numbers and knew how to count to 6!
Jack Short He had a profound effect on my career. He was the first captain of South Leinster who really drove intensive training and a real desire to win. Everyone bought in. His greatest attribute was his ability to play quality quick bowling. Such a good back foot technique. Will always remember him signalling to the dressing room at The Oval 1984 when Howarth asked Sylvester Clarke to take a blow with David Thomas the great English white hope at the other end. He felt he didnt need a lid for him as he called the 12th man out to collect it. Monteith loved it. To be fair it was box office.
Stephen Warke you cannot argue against his weight of runs over the longer term and his record speaks for itself.
Stephen Smyth mercurial but had real quality a complete natural who could switch it on when he wanted to. Only played 38 times which is ludicrous for his ability and class.
Ed Joyce best batsman Ireland ever produced no more to add apart from my disbelief that he never played Test cricket for England.
Angus Dunlop a career of two halves first part perhaps a question of belief but a second thankfully which saw him understand exactly how good he was. An average 42.00 for that half tells its own story I saw it mostly at the other end for 30 years as we played together so often even in the back garden!
Dermott Monteith a record that speaks for itself. I had limited experience of Dermot as a player. All that came late in my career. A great thinker on the game which I tapped into when I could (mostly at a late hour) when he became a selector. My abiding memory was listening to the ball fizz as it came down to you as an opponent. A self-belief whether hidden or otherwise could only be admired.
Garfield Harrison we played most of our cricket together from the dynasty of Harrisons and cut from the same cloth. Steely determination from a winning mentality at club level in Waringstown. His most significant contribution was his change to off spin from seam. He always did his bit with the ball coupled with an excellent batting record. Loved red ink!
Paul Jackson one of the greats I played with. At times shirt sticking out, cap to the side, hair all over the place, trousers dislodged from the pads, guffaws of laughter most of the time so he was the heartbeat of the team. Let no one be fooled, however. He was an extraordinarily good wicket keeper. He had the ability to stop leg glances going for 4! That good. Standing back in his time there was no one better in the world in my opinion. One 3 dayer against Scotland we bowled 141 overs and not a bye. Like all quality keepers went unnoticed. With the bat he masterminded the revolving door but he could bat better than that!!
Alan Nelson again a cricketer that I played with and against a lot. Incredible competitor who could land the ball on two-foot square and nipped it off the seam. He always had the respect of all the top players and gave every sinew of effort for Ireland. A little Philander like his record speaks for itself. Above all else a fantastic character who I love every time I meet him now with the old stories. Joey OMeara giving him the Rep of Ireland 1 England 0 tee shirt which he wore for the entire Zimbabwe tour of 91 is an abiding memory as he beat a beer tray with a bottle of Castle to the sounds from the 12th of July!!!! Seeing was believing. My most enjoyable tour.
Ryan Eagleson/Mark Patterson I am putting these together as both were dogged by injury early in their career. Had both stayed injury free I think they would have had outstanding Irish careers, hence their inclusion. They were the first of the younger breed to come through under the tutelage of Mike Hendrick. Mark was the life and soul of the party always upbeat (aka King Billy his Dad!!!) which was great for the team and Eagy was simply too good looking to be playing cricket for Ireland!!! He spent more time fixing his hair which was naturally blond but tried to make it blonder. Both real skilful bowlers who I loved playing with.
Simon Corlett simply a brilliant bowler and all-round cricketer. Get him in the bar after a game (although you were buying the drink) he would bring you through all the complexities and skills of the art of swing bowling very much akin to the Tim Murtagh of today. Not quick he could swing it both ways with unerring accuracy. Tremendous record.
Justin Benson First ex pat who recognised he could play for Ireland after a stint in county cricket. I got the sense quickly that Benny enjoyed cricket in Ireland more than he did so in England. No need for guesses as to why. A quality bat however always under bowled in my opinion (bit like Paul Stirling right now maybe a bit of a chore?) His dibbly dobblies were a lethal weapon non more so when we beat Middlesex for the first time in 1997. A real good guy to play with.
Junior McBrine played against each other all the way up tremendous cricketer who had it all. Unorthodox with the bat but had guts however with the ball was cunning and clever. He had a great cricket brain the only sad part is that we didnt play more together for whatever reason.
Kyle McCallan what a career started opening the batting for Ireland with me and finished at number 11 in a different era. How good is that. Great player, great bloke and great company. However, it was his skill with the ball that was second to none. I think he could have got in any international XI such was the quality of his bowling. Class act. The coach can decide between him and the Gub!!!