IRELAND: Cricket focus on ‘global jigsaw’ with India and Spain camps

Graham Ford. Pic by Sportsfile.
Graham Ford. Pic by Sportsfile.

High-performance training camps in India and Spain have been confirmed by Cricket Ireland as part of preparations towards next year’s major sub-continent tour.

The Ireland men’s squad will head off on tour across February and March of 2019 - with a batting camp scheduled for Bangalore and trip to Murcia both across December.

Andrew Balbirnie, James McCollum, William Porterfield, Stuart Poynter, James Shannon, Simi Singh, Harry Tector and Gary Wilson visit India from December 10-20.

Peter Chase, David Delany, Gareth Delany, Josh Little, Barry McCarthy, Max Neville, Neil Rock, Lorcan Tucker and Craig Young will participate in a bowling camp between December 16-20 in the La Manga Club.

The coaching staff includes Graham Ford, Ben Smith, Rob Cassell and Ryan Eagleson, plus Mark Rausa as the head of physiotherapy.

“The year of 2019 will be a big one for Irish cricket – and preparing for it has demonstrated that, in reality, there is no longer an off-season for our international men’s team,” said Andrew White, the chair of national men’s selectors. “Next year will be the first full year that Ireland is part of the ICC Future Tours Programme.

“Over the next 12 months we are scheduled to play two Test matches, 15 one-day internationals and nine T20 internationals.

“This excludes any additional bilateral fixtures that may emerge over the period, as well as home and away fixtures at the Ireland Wolves-level that also feature a number of frontline and fringe players.

“This growing fixture load will increase over subsequent years, with involvement in more tours and tournaments.

“As such, our previous “off-season” is now viewed as a short window of preparation time before the next set of fixtures.

“While an exciting time for Irish cricket fans, the increasing demands and expectations on our elite and emerging players means that the selectors are now constantly monitoring and assessing our wider talent pool to ensure we have the players and the skill-sets available to succeed in a range of conditions.

“And with this, always maintaining an eye to the future.

“Our next major milestone is the Afghanistan series in India early in the new year.

“That series will consist of a Test match, five one-day internationals and three T20 internationals over a four-week period – and all under a subcontinent climate where playing conditions are expected to be dry, low-bouncing and spin-friendly.”

The high-performance training camps have been designed to provide players an opportunity to “adapt and prepare for the challenges ahead”.

“The purpose of the camps is to expose a wider pool of players to varying conditions around the world, as well as creating opportunities for more high-intensity skills-based sessions leading into major tours and tournaments,” said Ireland men’s head coach Graham Ford. “Selection of players to attend these camps will be based on complementing the various overseas playing placements that numerous Irish cricketers are involved in.

“We have full and fringe internationals currently playing in various club competitions across the southern hemisphere, as well as a few players involved in world T20 leagues.

“From a coaching and selectors perspective, it is a ‘global jigsaw’ of players to monitor, but a jigsaw that we believe comes together to create a bright picture for the future of our sport.

“It is no secret that our batting has not held up well against some of the high-class spin bowling we have faced over the past 12-24 months.

“The mental approach and batting technique to combat spin in subcontinent conditions is an area many within our squad will be unfamiliar with.

“So we are flying a contingent to Bangalore in India for a batting camp where they will be exposed to local bowlers in conditions that we will confront during the forthcoming Afghan series.

“In identifying which players to send to the batting camp, we assessed where our established and emerging players were based and the types of experiences and coaching they were receiving.

“In many instances, we were satisfied that players were in good surrounds and getting great experience where they were.

“We also considered established players who have not had a great deal of high-level cricket in recent times.

“In many instances, the experience of some established players can additionally support our coaching staff by imparting their knowledge and experiences of playing in Indian conditions to the younger players.

“Regarding the bowling camp, we feel that there is a need to provide an intensive warm-weather training opportunity for a number of our pace bowlers – particularly some of those that haven’t had much cricket over recent months.

“Again, like the batting camp, the selectors have considered numerous factors in choosing who will travel to the camp.

“In addition, the bowling camp is considered a bonus opportunity to provide some good batting and wicket-keeping experience for some of our up-and-coming players.”