Gary Wilson Column 4
Gary Wilson (News Letter)
197 matches, 1620 overs, 270 wickets, 2579 runs. One Irishman born in Wollongong, NSW, Australia. That's what he is to everyone that has had the pleasure of watching Trent Johnston over the last 10 years play for his adopted country- Irish.
Everyone has said it, he is going to leave a mammoth hole in our team when he hangs up his boots after next weeks I-Cup final against Afghanistan, back in the desert of the UAE. He is more than just the figures that started this column, he is a presence in our team. No longer the captain but still a leader. I wouldn't be the only one thinking, Cricket Ireland must be hoping they can hold on to him in some way.
It was fitting, that in his last limited overs game for us he would get man of the match, big players turn up for big occasions. Trent knew that he hadn't been at his best so far in the tournament with the ball and you could see that was getting to him. He was desperate to do his bit for the lads. In the semi and the final he could hardly have done anymore.
Looking back, it was great to have four days rest from our last group game. At the time I was wary of the break being too long and it being difficult to get back into the swing of things. In reality it gave us a chance to take a well deserved break and to rest up our weary bones. Credit too must go to the medical staff of Kieran O'reilly and Brendan Connor, who were keen for active recovery, making sure we got our gym session in if needed.
I have to confess at the time I was fairly grumpy about it though! Those guys don't get the credit they deserve. They are the the physio, the s&c coach, the kit man, the assistant managers, the throwdown givers, the agony uncles, the good lads. I saw a photo after we won the final of those two, big Roy, Simmo and Peter Johnston and the caption was "the team behind the team" it simply couldn't be more accurate. Without those five we wouldn't function. At least not nearly as well.
So we now have a T20 qualifying trophy to add to our World Cricket League title, with only the Intercontinental cup left for a clean sweep of trophies at associate level. If we do manage to win that next week it would be some statement to the ICC- the treble. Even Sir Alex would have been proud of that!
The final against Afghanistan couldn't have started any better for us with Stirlo and Porty scoring the guts of 80 runs in the power play. I was sitting beside Murts and he kept saying "we're on for 200 here" I was wary. I didn't want us aiming for 200 and getting bowled out for 160 in the 18th over trying to get there. Much rather aim for 180/190 and if we got close to that then try and kick on. As it was we just kept going.
The innings that Stirlo played deserves more recognition than it probably got. With everything that TJ did in the game it might have been passed over but it was a special knock from Paul as well. I'm still confident that even if we had only got 180 that we would have defended it.... Without doubt it was a good wicket but we had the bowlers to defend 180 for sure.
We knew they were going to come hard but I have to say I didn't expect the first ball to disappear over mid wicket for six. I was pumped for our fielding session. I went up to the wicket and told Shezad he would have to do that for 20 overs, asked him if he had the guts for it. The next two balls disappeared over cover and I thought to myself, flip maybe he does.
I spoke with Porty after those two balls... Shezad had shuffled down the wicket marginally, very little but enough, much like Irfan Ahmed had done for Hong Kong two games before and Maxi and myself got him stumped next ball. We decided that I should go and stand up again. The very next ball Shezad knicked one that flicked my webbing and onto my arm, a big knick that would have been a regulation catch if I were back. Paul Allot commented on tv that I shouldn't have stood up but I still think we made the right decision. If had been standing back shazy may have used his feet again and the ball could have gone for four again. It had worked perfectly 5 days previously. This time it didn't, but the thought process was correct, I'm convinced of that.
The next two balls to finish the over were dots. Some vindication. Someone else who sort of cruised through the tournament without getting a huge amount of recognition was George Dockrell. Doc has come in for some criticism over the last while, some of it unfair and throughout the the tournament he consistently picked up wickets at key times for us, not just any wickets, big players. In the final he got Shezad and Mangal. Their two best players.
In all honesty it was a mammoth task for them to try and chase down 220 odd. We spoke at half time that they would literally need to keep going through their whole innings, we knew if we kept our heads and stuck together that we would be picking up the trophy at the end. We did. Another trophy to add to our collection and hopefully one more to follow next week.
We head back to Dubai on Friday and for me personally its been great to get back home and see my wife and have some down time. A few of the guys commented that they would rather have stayed out, I can understand that. Many of you are probably thinking its a long way to go back and forth for five days but we have a very long winter away ahead and it's just nice to get a bit of time at home.
I'll probably have one hit this week just to try and get ready for the red ball before we get back out there. We are also in the middle of the joys of moving house.... So work to do there as well!