Andrew Balbirnie admits he was reluctant at first to bat at number 3, the slot he has made his own for Ireland in a new podcast interview out today.
He revealed: “I remember when John Bracewell first arrived and we had a few sessions he told me ‘you're going to be Ireland’s No3 in the next couple of years so we want to get you ready for that'.
And I was ‘I don’t know if I’m a 3, I don’t really like 3. I’d rather open or bat 4.
“I used to be ‘I don’t want to have the pads on first up, because you could be in first ball or 20th over’, but I’ve really grown to love the position – I don’t want to bat anywhere else.”
Balbirnie’s 35 minute interview with the respected Australian journalist Jarrod Kimber (pictured below with Sam Collins) is published today on the Red Inker podcast.
The Irish skipper goes on: “I’d imagine when sides play us they spend a lot of time working out how to get Kev or Stirlo early, so I can hopefully just sneak in and do my business.
“Playing in the powerplay is brilliant, it suits my game down to the ground, especially on good wickets. I think it’s just a confidence thing – I’m not going out to absolutely mill the ball, I’m just going out with an intent to hit boundaries to get myself in a good position.
“That’s a big part of my game – the first twenty balls, maybe first ten in T20.”
And the Pembroke batsmen also revealed how he heard he was to be Ireland’s captain: “The day after the qualifiers we got emails saying we had to be in the Grand Hotel in Malahide for performance reviews with the coach, chairman of selectors and performance director. I was told to be there at 10.30pm.
“I was ‘fuck, 10.30 at night in Malahide!’ so I texted them and asked for a change, I’ll go at 9 the next morning. But they said ‘no, we want to see you last’.
“So we had the review and then they told me ‘we think it’s the right time to take over the Test and ODI teams.’ I was shell-shocked, I was stuck for words for about five seconds. Then I obviously said ‘yeah, I’d love to do it. It’s the biggest honour I’ve received in cricket’.
“Purdy’s been brilliant, he rang me the next day. He’d nothing but good things to say and he told me if I never needed a chat he’d always be there – and he has been.”
The skipper has been active on social media during the lockdown, posting his XI of cricketing foodstuffs in his kitchen, and videos of back-garden cricket with his family.
“I’m sort of able to deal with this better as I’ve already done nothing for five, six months when I was injured. This is easy, sitting around, doing a few exercises, sitting on the bike.
“I’m approachable, and pally with a lot of the guys, there’s a lot of uncertainty for the younger ones so it’s important to keep up the communication and make sure they’re OK and ticking over and dealing with this situation as best they can.”