The North West Warriors Academy was officially launched at Bready Cricket Club on Thursday evening as the next generation of local Interprovincial cricketers began to be put through their paces.
The success of the senior series last year has certainly whetted the appetite for competition at this level and with Test status for Ireland now seemingly closer than ever, the North West Union are intent on being a part of the long term plan.
Thursday’s launch was carried out by N. Ireland Sports Minister Caral Ni Chuilin and the MLA even took a turn in the nets to face former Bready and current England fast bowler, Boyd Rankin who was also a guest at the event.
“Cricket is enjoying a growing reputation across Ireland and the North West Warriors cricket Academy aims to capture this by encouraging and developing the next generation of players”, said the Sports Minister. “On an personal note I would like to pay tribute to Bobby Rao because when we look at cricket in the North West and beyond, Bobby is one of the key figures in building the sport here. As local cricketers continue to impress on the world stage, Bobby is fuelling the stars of tomorrow. “It has also been a pleasure to meet Boyd, especially here at his home ground. He is an inspirational figure- a sportsman who links Bready Cricket Club with the latest Ashes series in Australia; a local man playing his cricket at the very top level. “
Welcoming the Sports Minister to Bready, Union President Andrew Fleming said it was a landmark day for the region. “This morning the Ireland squad for the T20 World Cup has been announced and it contains four players from our back yard- Craig Young, Andrew McBrine, Stuart Thompson and of course team captain, William Porterfield. We as a Union are fiercely proud of our players but their success shows what can be achieved with hard work and the correct attitude”.
“We have worked hard this winter to put together an infrastructure that will allow Academy players to avail of a high quality fitness, lifestyle and coaching programme and I have no doubt that both they and we will reap the benefits of this for years to come. We are looking forward to a competitive summer at both club and Interprovincial level,” he concluded.