Barry Chambers (CricketEurope)
Jeremy Lawlor (pictured right) hasn’t been afraid to clock up the miles since arriving in Ireland last year.
The former Glamorgan all-rounder embarks on yet another journey tomorrow, as he prepares for his Northern Knights debut against Leinster Lightning in Dublin. After a truncated season at Phoenix, he’s switched to the NCU where he will play for Carrickfergus.
What persuaded him to pack the suitcase and head to Belfast?.
“I wasn’t too sure at the start how the revised interpro system would look, and obviously it’s tough to break into Leinster Lightning as they are so strong, so I thought it would be best to play in the NCU and give myself the best chance.
“I spoke to a few of the coaches and the opportunity came to go to Carrick and I’ve really enjoyed it in the first month or so.”
Lawlor has certainly seen a lot of the country, having represented Munster Reds in the 2020 interpros, as well as playing for the Southern XI.
“It’s been a bit of a weird one,” he laughed. “Obviously with Covid and the weather I only got to play two matches with Munster Reds in the interpros, so it’s been really about trying to get used to the people and the set-up in Ireland.
“It’s worked out well in terms of getting to know different people and areas in such a short space of time so I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Jeremy Lawlor on his way to 90 for the Southern XI
A quickfire 90 for the Southern XI brought him to the attention of the Irish selectors, and he found himself fast-tracked into the Ireland Wolves squad for their tour of Bangladesh.
However, it proved to be tough going for the 25 year-old, who managed a top score of just 21 in five innings.
“It was really a tough tour, more so off the field with a lot of interruptions with covid, as it wasn’t as smooth sailing as we had hoped.
“Even though the performances weren’t that great for me from a personal perspective I still took a lot away from the tour and learned a great deal. Hopefully I can take that experience and come back a lot stronger this season.”
Jeremy Lawlor bowling
Despite the tough tour, Lawlor relished the opportunity of working with Ireland Head Coach Graham Ford first hand.
“I’d only heard great reviews about Graham before the tour and that was borne out on the time I got to spend with him in Bangladesh. He was great to work with, keeping it very simplistic, which is something I really like. He is just so relaxed and calm, and that’s just perfect as far as I’m concerned.”
Lawlor isn’t alone in playing in pastures new this season as the new format has many turning out for new squads as part of the interprovincial revamp.
“It’s very exciting. We were in Bangladesh when the four squads were released and everyone was talking about it. It’s an exciting era for Irish cricket with the changes, having four teams, not as many restrictions on where you have to play your cricket.
“It’s only going to make the competition better and strengthen the depth and quality of the game in Ireland. You can see when training with the Knights just how much strength in depth there is, with people really competing for places, and everyone pushing, driving each other on to become better.”
Jeremy Lawlor batting for Munster Reds in the 2020 interpros
The series gives Lawlor a second chance in his desire to be a professional full-time cricketer. He spent five years chasing his dream at Glamorgan, but never quite managed to bed down a place in the Welsh county, for whom his father Peter also played.
Released at the end of the 2019 season, he opted to explore the possibility of a career in the Emerald Isle, by virtue of his ancestry which entitled him to an Irish passport.
“It was a big move not from a cricketing perspective but a bit of going into the unknown in that I didn’t really know anybody here, but from a social point of view there aren’t many better sports than cricket to get to know people.
“I have spent time away in Australia before so moving to a country only an hour away with the same language wasn’t too much of an unknown.
Half century for Jeremy Lawlor
“I feel I’ve found my feet now up in the North at Carrick. Last year was about exploring different avenues, getting settled, finding out how the system and people here work.”
Away from cricket Jeremy works in the finance department of an Irish leisurewear company, helped ironically by the pandemic in that he can work from home in Belfast, rather than being based in Dublin.
“It always good to have something away from cricket, and it will help me down the line for the transition out of the game, having a career to fall back on.”
Let us hope his finance background is needed to tally up his runs in the 2021 interpros.
His first opportunity comes at Sydney Parade tomorrow as the Knights take on defending champions Leinster Lightning.
The action gets under way at 10:45am with CricketEurope providing ball-by-ball commentary from Ian Callender.