Since I no longer play, coach nor administer the game of cricket, I am a bit of a sideline observer these days, an outsider looking in. I see it differently I suppose but I still see lots of it. There was a time I was totally consumed by the game, now I am merely consumed by it.

I say this as the season officially began on the 1st May with the Interpro game between Leinster and the North West, I really cannot bring myself to say the Lightning against the Warriors, sorry, too old school for the new monikers. Of course we could not go to the game but the nice people on the live stream allowed anyone who wanted to watch from the comfort of their own front room.

Keeping an eye on the scores while I took a trip out to Abbotstown and the National Sports Campus where the youngest had some training to do. With 2 hours to kill and little enough interest in wandering around the nearest shopping centre in Blanchardstown, I took a gander at the Campus itself. If you have not been there, oh my, it is the best sweet shop for a sports lover.

In December 2015, the family took a trip to New Zealand, amongst many other things we found ourselves visiting the cricket grounds we see on TV during our winter months. Wellington to be honest was my favourite, I just wanted to vault the hoardings and play but failing that I would be happy enough just to watch someone else play, if only there had been a game. One of the grounds we visited was at the Saxton Oval in Nelson (below), where in 2015 Ireland had a fantastic victory over West Indies.

Saxton Oval Nelson

The ground in Nelson is situated within a sports campus. A running track, hockey pitch, millions of mini football pitches surround the international cricket ground and it went on, rugby pitches seemed to stretch into the horizon. We thought “why can’t we have this at home”.

Little did we know that we already did, but since then the Campus has expanded and developed into a Sporting Wonderland. There are mixed views on whether an international cricket ground should be sited there, ease of access is certainly an issue and the intimacy we seem to like in our cricket stadia might well be lost.

My view is firmly on the side of the game having a permanent and full time base and if that is in Abbotstown that is ok with me. I have seen at first hand the disruption that hosting an international game (and there is rarely just one now) has on a club ground. It takes weeks out of the member’s season, with restricted access on the ground and training facilities. And then there is the question of manpower. However, this is a discussion for another day and another forum.


Pat Bracken is an interesting man, a Tipperary native; he has never played the game of cricket. Yet he loves the game and in particular loves the story of the game. In 2006 he wrote a history of the game in his county “Foreign and Fantastic Field Sports” – copies still available to purchase from Pat. I am in fairly regular contact with Pat, exchanging information and occasionally documents of interest, he is a one man cricket museum. More recently he has been working with Cork University Press on mapping the cricket clubs of the island. On Saturday evening, he sent me a clip that he had found from the RTE archives. It was an interview with Ian Botham during the second Ireland v Worcestershire game at Castle Avenue in 1990. Little did he know that batting in the background was actually yours truly. Players of my era, rarely if ever saw themselves on film so this was nice. Even nicer was that the piece of film captured me clipping Phil Newport off my legs for a single. To be honest, it was probably one of the few times I managed to lay bat on Newport that day, so even better. There were crowd shots and one could pick out the familiar faces which included my own late father and Pembroke’s Cyril Irwin.

Michael Lowe

It rained in Dublin on Monday, in all likelihood it rained wherever you were. But the dog still needed his exercise so I walked over to my sister and retrieved a loaned book from her husband Michael Lowe. Michael hails from a beautiful pocket of South West London and he relocated to Dublin when the eldest sister decided that it was time to come home.

He left his club, Sunbury CC where he had spent his cricketing life to that point. It is a great club, and has produced some outstanding cricketers. It was the first club of the Poynter brothers and Middlesex have benefitted from its successful development programme with Richard Johnson, Toby Roland Jones and David Nash amongst the local boys to have played for the County, while Amar Virdi is currently playing with great success for Surrey.

Of course, there is an Irish connection too as Paul Stirling, Shane Getkake and Andy Balbirnie not only played for Sunbury but were house guests with the Lowes and George Dockrell was an occasional visitor while on Middlesex underage duty. In Dublin, Michael immediately became involved with Clontarf and has captained the 5th team, very successfully.

He has been instrumental in the development of many young players in their early days of adult cricket and unlike many captains is always delighted to move them onwards and upwards. Michael has been a busy man recently in his role of Chair of the OCC (Open Cricket Committee) which effectively runs the playing of league cricket in Leinster.

While they have been planning for months, the ROI roadmap for reopening of society has ensured that the OCC is very much in the spotlight as players eagerly await the publication of fixtures. As ever the OCC will deliver, each and every one of them deserves our thanks for their largely unheralded work.

It was back to school for the youngest on Tuesday after the bank holiday. He went in with a spring in his step. Tuesday is after all PE day. Oh and even better, it is also after school cricket day. Despite there being no school competitions again this year, the school has decided to provide cricket training for its pupils. The eldest is in coaching every day of the week along with other coaches in the school and the take up has been excellent. Up to 45 first year girls have been attending, enjoying the game. Throughout the year groups the numbers have been strong. We have to give great credit to the schools out there who are doing all they can to provide normality in the most abnormal circumstances.

It is Wednesday so it must be a coaching course. It has been trying for the Cricket Leinster tutors to organise the usual coaching courses over the winter, Zoom can never replace a face to face course but it was all they had in recent months so that is how it had to be done. Brian O’Rourke and Fintan McAllister were finishing off a “Coaching Kids 5 to 11” course for young coaches which the youngest had begun earlier during lockdown. They were young, mainly Clontarf, coaches at this session, but not exclusively. And the word that came back was that it was great fun. It bodes well that the coaches are enjoying learning to coach; transferring that joy is after all the essence of coaching.

As we approach the end of a week, the final training session is scheduled for Thursday evening, when the 3rd to 6th years gather. Training restarted a few weeks back for the kids of Clontarf and it has been a great success. Robert Forrest, their Youth coordinator informs me that from minor level up, 85 boys and 45 girls have been back training and while some of the coaches have noticed the chill in the air, I fancy that the weather has been the furthest thing from the players’ minds.

And so a week concludes, a week in which provided no games below “elite level” have been played but as you can see, that does not mean no cricket. A further reopening scheduled for next Monday means that forthcoming weeks will be even busier. And that will be a nice change.