Ian Callender (Sunday Life)
AS a schoolteacher, Instonians captain and chairman of the Ireland selectors, Andrew White should be preparing for the busiest time of his year but, like everyone else, he is lockdown at home with only a not so attentive class of two to teach.
With children aged eight, six and four, White is finding out that home schooling is more difficult than controlling a class of 30 at Grosvenor Grammar but from next week he will have an extra worry.
His sister is Dr Alison Cowan (pictured with Andrew), who as captain of Civil Service North won the 2019 O’Neill’s Female Club Player of the Year, but having been off work since last November she is almost ready to return to the frontline.
“She is a GP in Lisburn Health Centre and, because of the situation, is keen to get back and help,” said Andrew.
“Hopefully in the next seven to 10 days.”
Although Grosvenor remains open, the number of pupils – sons and daughters of key workers – is in single figures so Andrew has not been required to go into school.
His daily exercise is a four and half kilometre run - I’m on holiday until Wednesday he says with rather too much enthusiasm – but is just hoping, without too much optimism, that he has some cricket to look forward to this summer.
“The winter has been long enough so we are all just looking forward to getting back. I just hope there is some meaningful cricket because it could be another long winter ahead,” he says.
“I don’t think we can start much later than July. That would give us one round of league fixtures, the Challenge Cup, a T20 tournament and maybe room for the Irish Cup. Beyond that you could play an elongated T20 tournament because you could use midweek, but they are just my ideas. We have sponsors to think about as well and try to make sure they are rewarded properly.
“My worry is that with Wimbledon and The Open already cancelled, and although they are major world tournaments a lot of sporting bodies, I think, will take their lead from the likes of the Premier League which doesn’t involve worldwide travelling but does have mass gatherings, and while local cricket may not have a mass gathering, there are still the players to think of.
“I would expect it to be Cricket Ireland’s call rather the NCU’s. They are going to be taken in line with other organisations but I know the powers that be are keen to get out and play cricket as soon as it is safe.
“July is still 10-11 weeks away so hopefully we will see some movement in the numbers impacted by the virus setting down.”
Although there are no teams to select, White remains in regular contact with Ireland National Coach Graham Ford and High Performance Director Richard Holdsworth and what the players are doing.
“They are all very good, making sure they are keeping standards as high as possible and our support staff are helping the injured, Mark Adair, for example, has had important rehab and should be back in the frame for later in the summer.
“It’s disappointing losing the fixtures against Zimbabwe, Bangladesh and, presumably New Zealand (in June). We were looking to win the T20 series against Zimbabwe and Bangladesh, seeing the improvement we have made recently while New Zealand was going to be a good test.
“So it was all set up for the guys to build on what they have done over the winter then get to Australia (for the T20 World Cup in October) in a good state of mind and performance. But we just have to wait and see what lies ahead.
“Whereas some countries will be happy with the rest, I know our guys benefit greatly from playing and will miss out on testing themselves against the best in the build-up to the World Cup.”