Gary Wilson column 5
Gary Wilson (News Letter)
If you are talking to Roy Torrens over the Christmas period you will be told two things. The first, that we deserve to be at the top table eating and drinking with cricket's elite. The second, which he was quick to point out within an hour of us reclaiming the Intercontinental cup, is that you will go a long way before you find another manager in international cricket that has something in common with the great Sir Alex Ferguson. Our I Cup win on Friday last week gave us a treble of global trophies in one season. Meaning that Sir ALex of Govan and Roy of Portrush have that one thing, at least!
I read this week that since the World Cup in 2007 we have played 107 games against other associate countries and have lost just 11. That is an incredible stat. Bare in mind also that for at least a few of those 107 we would not have been able to call on the experience of many of our county players. You could be forgiven for thinking that with all these wins, all these trophies in a 7 year period, Cricket Ireland are banging their heads off the proverbial brick wall trying to engage with the ICC about further recognition.
As an organisation we can't believe that is the case and we are beginning to see cracks appear in their formerly unified responses. The Global Development Manager Tim Anderson had this to say after our game against england at Malahide this year. "10000 people in Dublin on a Tuesday afternoon suggests this is becoming a very serious cricket market. They are the best associate nation on the field and the only one we can see producing what they are producing today"
That is one big statement coming out of cricket headquarters. There is a huge onus on us as players to keep this going, we have created something that is now our responsibility to carry on. It's not enough to simply keep being the best associate. We want to be better than the likes of Zimbabwe and bangladesh, to challenge the West Indies and New Zealand.
The responsibility is there too of the supporter of cricket in Ireland. Keep supporting this team, you are doing a fantastic job! When the team gets a message from back home, either through social media or via text or call it brings genuine good feeling to the boys. To know that there is now a following of the game of Cricket in Ireland that extends past a few people watching a game against the Free Foresters gives us that little bit extra. We are well aware of what we're representing- a country.
Such is the quality of this squad that we are constantly under a lot of pressure to perform and really if you aren't doing that then you aren't guaranteed your place. That is of course the way it should be. Far be it from me to do the selectors job for them and I'm aware that everyone has a right to their opinion but a major strength that we have is that when a particular player's position is starting to come under scrutiny they seem to be able to step up to the plate more often than not. Take John Mooney for example, plenty of people over the last number of weeks have been questioning his place. How does he respond? With his first two 5fer's for Ireland to win us the treble in a man of the match performance.... About 7 from the top and 2nd change bowler is looking like a good spot for him right now.
Our last night in Dubai saw us invited up to the Presidents room for a few beers and some pizza to enjoy each other's company and that of TJ for one last time, as a squad. The players and management made a special presentation- a watch engraved with his initials and cap number. We sat and shared stories together for hours, singing songs ranging from Ireland's Call to Elton Johns "Your Song" and always, always led by our S&C coach Brendan Connor. There is no middle ground with Brendo.... He is either on duty or he isn't! I've never met a bloke who can switch from being so head's on in his job to being Elton John or just about any member of the Beatles or Eagles so easily. It's to his great credit that the boys will listen and apply his theories so willingly. Other S&C's I know certainly don't have that luxury!
As TJ has already said, there were many tears and many beers that night. What else could you expect when a bloke who quite literally gave up life as he knew it at the time to play cricket for Ireland decides its time to pull the pin. Let's not forget that he moved from the other side of the world with his wife and two kids with absolutely no guarantees at the time and certainly not for any monetary gain. Then he bled green and gold. Now its green and blue. Im only sorry that he didn't quite get to go out the way he wanted, injury to an old achilles problem prevented the big fella from taking the field on the last day and he had to make do with a spot on the bench beside a recovering G Wilson. It was though, my pleasure to be able to share that moment with him.