Shane Getkate admits he was shocked initially when told he was being transferred to the Warriors after a record 68 appearances for the Northern Knights, but is now looking forward to his North West debut this weekend.
ďIt was a bit of a shock to the system to be told I was leaving,Ē said Getkate. ďThere were three of us; Curtis Campher, Gareth Delany and myself who were pulled aside by Graham Ford at Ireland training one day, and the Cricket Ireland plans explained.
ďFordy and then Andrew White explained that they are trying to strengthen the teams, ensure better balance between them to make sure things are more competitive. It wasnít through my choice but I have settled in now.
ďI was helped by knowing Craig Young and Andy McBrine who I have known since I was 10 or 11. I also know Boyd Rankin and William Porterfield really well and get on great with the Warriors guys.Ē
The fact that there was a very familiar face in Gary Wilson as Head Coach also helped the Instonians all-rounder.
ďItís been brilliant that Gary is there. Heís been great in the past to work and play with. Heís brings an incredible knowledge and passion to the game, and since he came back from county cricket Iíve learned a lot from him. ď
Heís a great communicator, you know where you stand with him, as heís very open and honest. Heís got exceptional man management skills and I know exactly what my role will be in the starting XI for the Warriors games this month.
ďThereís a real energy about the camp and the guys are saying thereís a new lease of life about the camp. We have been training hard and itís been fantastic to have been on grass wickets at Bready and Eglinton this past few weeks. That was Gary pushing the Union to get us out there having been indoors for most of the winter.Ē
Getkateís stats in the revamped interpros are impressive since his debut in 2014 Ė having moved from cricket in Dublin to Belfast after failing to get into the Lightning set-up. Heís eighth in the batting aggregates with 1467 runs at 22.23, including seven 50ís.
In the bowling his 92 wickets at 20.90 put him fifth on the list, his tally including five wicket hauls against both the Warriors and the Knights. Which does he feel is his strongest suit?
ďI see myself as a batting all-rounder primarily but Iíve gone alright with the ball in interpro cricket, especially the 50-over format. You get more of an opportunity at that level sometimes with more time. Iíve been a little disappointed with my bowling in recent months, especially in Bangladesh. Iíve come back here now, had a chance to refresh my thinking and put right what didnít go so well for me there.
ďIíve been happy with my batting this past few years and Iím targeting a 100 in the interpros. Iíve never gotten one Ė my top score is 87 - and itís something Iíd like to rectify. Iím looking for some big scores and runs and hopefully help the Warriors win some games.
ďStuart Barnes has joined Ireland and heís been great to work with. Iím 29 now so there arenít going to be major changes to my action. Itís more about the mental side of things. Understanding my game and what makes me tick. He just helps me get into the right headspace for the battle and make me really competitive.
ďI play at my best when I keep things really simple. Heís been working not so much on technical aspects but more on developing consistency, knowing what my strengths are and sticking to them.Ē
Getkateís senior opportunities with Ireland have come primarily in the T20 format Ė 15 of his 18 appearances. Is he fearful of getting pigeon-holed in that category?
ďThatís the way it has worked out. We have played a lot more of that format in recent times. You get plenty of chances. Where I bat at six or seven you might have just ten balls and have to make an immediate impact. Your strike rate has to be right up there at 180-200. You have to start from ball one being really aggressive.
ďI really loved playing those three ODIís against Zimbabwe when I got to bowl my full quota and batting at seven there was more time in the game. I will get chances if I score runs and takes wickets for the Wolves and the Warriors so thereís individual responsibility there.Ē
Itís potentially a big year ahead with the T20 World Cup due to be held in India in October and the ill-fated Euroslam pencilled in to begin in late August, both great incentives for players as the season starts?
ďDefinitely. Nine T20s across the three Festivals with the Warriors is great. Itís a real opportunity for the players to win games for their Unions and put their hands up for selection at a T20 World Cup or the Euroslam.
ďT20 cricket is all about going out and playing with freedom and backing yourself on the day.Ē
There was a blow for Getkate when he lost his full-time Ireland deal, only offered a retainer contract, but while it may have affected his bank balance, it hasnít changed his outlook on the sport as a career.
ďNot too much has changed really. Iíve had a coaching business this past few years. Iím still playing my club cricket with Instonians and coaching with them, plus some private clients.
ďIím living in Belfast and I wouldnít say Iím training any less than I would have done if I had a full-time contract rather than a retainer one. Cricket is still very much my number one priority.Ē
Getkate will get the chance to make his Warriors debut on Saturday as the Warriors take on Leinster Lightning in Dublin. Action at Sydney Parade gets under way at 10:45am.