Ireland's Andy McBrine determined to be a good team player at ICC T20 World Cup

Donemana’s Andy McBrine admits being ‘12th man’ has been a tough gig but he remains determined to play his part ahead of Ireland’s ICC T20 World Cup opener against the Netherlands in Abu Dhabi.
Ireland's Andy McBrine practicing in the nets in Abu Dhabi.Ireland's Andy McBrine practicing in the nets in Abu Dhabi.
Ireland's Andy McBrine practicing in the nets in Abu Dhabi.

“I have only played one practise game out here and while it’s been frustrating, I have been practising hard enough and doing everything I can so if I get a call up, I’m ready to go,” he insisted.

“I feel I’m hitting the ball quite nicely and my bowling has been consistently pretty good all summer so it’s just about getting that opportunity. Look, if it doesn’t come I’m still in a good place as I’m happy to be out here for this World Cup because I haven’t played much T20 cricket over the last few years. It’s just nice to get back into that fold again.

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“Me and (Andrew) Balbirnie are very good friends so I’ll always be there for the team. Yes, 12th man is a tough gig, especially in this heat as you are running a lot, bringing on drinks and gloves steady but you have to be there for the lads because at the end of the day I’m a team player. I always have been.

"If I’m playing, I’ll do everything I can to win the game and if I’m not playing then I’ll try my best to help the boys with whatever they need.”

The 28-year-old spinner says Graham Ford’s men are focusing on getting out of Group A to advance into the ‘Super 12’ Stage where the likes of England, India, West Indies and Australia enter the tournament.

“Preparation has been going well. We have had a lot of training and practise games and while a few practise games didn’t go our way, everyone is hitting the ball well and it’s just a matter of when it’s going to click. Hopefully it all clicks on Monday," he explained.

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“This is our first World Cup since 2016. We have had a few qualifiers but there’s no better feeling than playing at a World Cup. You know there’s going to be lots of people watching and you know you have lots of support back home. Once you cross that line you are right in the zone.

“We’ve had two good wins in our last few practise games so we’re all now raring to go. All three games are going to be tough. Netherlands, Sri Lanka and Namibia are all top sides so we have to be right in the zone from the very first ball if we want to get through to the next stage.”

McBrine feels that young Irish players like Josh Little, Harry Tector and Curtis Campher will relish their first taste of World Cup action and he hopes one of them can be that man to make a difference during games.

"It takes one or two people to win a T20 with bat or ball. You can play unbelievable cricket and some lad just has a good day and ends up winning the game for them, that's T20 cricket," he said.

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"We have a lot of young lads and this is probably their first real experience of a World Cup, players like Josh Little, who has had a fantastic summer with the ball; Harry Tector, another good young talent; Curtis Campher in the practise games looks a millions dollars and these lads will relish the opportunity to get out and show their talents."

The Warriors captain, who played his part in their recent Inter-Provincial T20 Trophy triumph, feels that Gary Wilson's appointment as head coach, along with William Porterfield and Boyd Rankin, has taken the North West to better levels.

"All those lads have obviously played a lot of cricket for Ireland as well as county cricket. They have been around lots of coaches and I'm sure they are picking up ideas throughout their career. Gary has already brought a real professionalism this year," he explained.

"In previous years we were still practising indoors at the end of April. This year, on the first week in April, we were hitting on grass wickets which was unknown for us. Personally I don't remember hitting on a grass wicket in the first week in April but that's just the professionalism Gary has brought with him.

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"Obviously Ian (McGregor) did a fantastic job as well but I think it was probably the right time for a change. That's no disrespect to Ian, but obviously that bit of freshness comes with any change and Gary has taken us up another level."

Fellow Donemana and Warriors' team-mate, William McClintock, only just missed out on World Cup selection and McBrine has told him to keep working hard.

"Big Willie (McClintock) has had a fantastic summer," he confirmed. "And that's one thing about Gary, he probably didn't know much about him, but I remember Gary asking about the better players around the area. I gave him a handful of names and Willie impressed him quite early on.

"I know it has been tough for Willie as well because of work commitments but he did what he could and showed that dedication. He got his reward by playing three games against Zimbabwe and was probably a bit unlucky to miss out on this squad.

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"He has got a long winter ahead of him but I have spoken to him quite a bit and told him to just stick at it because he's potentially an injury away from getting a call-up, so just keep the head down. I know it's tough but that happens in sport and it has happened to all of us."

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