August 8, 1985, was a defining day in my life, even though at that stage I was not fully aware of the impact that it would have. Ireland v Australia at Downpatrick and my parents had brought me to see the stars of Australian cricket, who at that time of year I was watching on television and then pretending to be in the back yard with my brother.

In those days when Ireland played the touring teams, they were on ‘a break' from their test match series in England. It was seen as an exhibition game, where the crowds only wish, was to be entertained by a batting masterclass from the visitors and of course… that the sun would shine.

Fast forward to 2012 and how the face of Irish cricket has changed, hopefully forever. I have been honoured and privileged to play in the era, with some great players and under two outstanding coach's that has seen the change come to fruition.

Last week in Mombasa, Kenya, I was proud to make my 200th appearance for Ireland and follow only Kyle McCallan in that achievement.

It was a time to reflect, looking back on 13 years of great memories, the best of which roll of the tongue, while being fully aware of the job that was currently in hand and that lies ahead.  Everyone knows of the high profile World Cup moments and I still gain a huge deal of satisfaction at not only what it meant to us, but the clear joy it brought to those watching in the stadiums and at home.

The rest of the players involved today have known nothing other than success and now with the professional set up in Irish Cricket, they earn a living from it. While they talked with me about the last thirteen years I was keen to stress  that we must never forget the players that have gone before.

After all, they put years of service into the sport they loved while juggling their day job. Stephen Warke took 14 years in amassing his 114 caps, while currently Paul Stirling, a star in the making, at the age of 21, has nearly 100 caps to his name in three years. That is a sign of how times have changed.
Touring is tough and is a huge test for players. The last two weeks in Mombasa have been in temperatures that can only be described as cruel and the thought of some drizzle from home was often wished for.

We left Kenya with an Intercontinental Cup victory that sees us sit top of the table, one out of two victories in the 2015 World Cup qualifying campaign and three Twenty20 wins. Ten days training now in Port Elizabeth before we move to our final destination of Dubai to begin our quest of qualifying for the Twenty 20 World Cup in Sri Lanka this September.

By the time we return it will be 7 weeks since leaving home and the role of families often go unnoticed. My wife Ydele, has been an outstanding support and now with a two month old daughter  life takes on a new meaning… but the jobs not finished.

 

Published by kind permission of  Richard Mulligan , Sports Editor, News Letter