Andrew Balbirnie Ireland’s captain - interview ahead of the West Indies series
The Ireland Men’s cricket team today take on the Wanderers Cricket Club of Barbados in a 50 over-a-side warm-up match ahead of the six-match series against the West Indies beginning 7 January, and newly appointed captain Andrew Balbirnie is confident of his side’s preparations ahead of the first One-Day International.
Speaking after completing a training session at the St Catherine’s Sport and Social Club in Barbados, Balbirnie said:
“To be honest, I'm feeling pretty good about the first game - it will be a different experience for me captaining the side, but one I'm really looking forward to. I’ve got family out here who are obviously very proud of me captaining the side, but when it comes down to it, it’s all about the team and the performance we put in on the field. That’s my focus, and I know that is the clear focus of the squad.”
“Our preparations have been great out here, we’ve been based at St Catherine's cricket ground and they've produced some good wickets for us to train on. Since we’ve returned from the [T20 World Cup] Qualifiers we’ve only had the chance to work indoors back home, but the lads have worked hard over the break and worked even harder since they've got out here to the Caribbean. We have a couple of practice games before the first ODI, so we'll be able to fine-tune a few things before we go into the series.”
Asked about the conditions they expect to face over the coming matches, he said:
“The pitches are pretty good out here - I think I’m right in saying that England came here last year and there were two high-scoring games in Barbados, so we're expecting the pitches to be pretty good for batting. With day/night games we would expect the ball to skid on a bit under the lights, but we're very fortunate to be playing on top quality grounds like Kensington Oval.”
“I haven’t played in the Caribbean before, but playing in different countries doesn't tend to affect your game too much. You firstly need to focus on the fundamentals of your batting and bowling, and if you nail down those skills, you can then have the confidence to back yourself to have the game to adapt to conditions on the day.”
“For batters like myself, out here it will be a case of being aware of what shots you can play with confidence, and what shots may be more of a risk to play. The basics of batting are pretty straight forward, so once you have that in check you'll be able to expand your game as you go.”
“So, as a cricketer I wouldn't say I've been preparing any differently to any other series, to be honest. I’m in the squad first and foremost as a top order batsman, so I've been focussing on ensuring my batting is in the best possible frame, to give myself the best opportunity to get runs and lead from the front with the bat if I can.”
Last time these two sides met in May 2019, the West Indies chased down a big Irish total at Malahide after Balbirnie had hit a brilliant 135 in the first innings. So, were there any lessons from that match that could be taken into this series?
“I suppose when you get runs but lose the game it's a bit disappointing - it almost feels like you didn't get the runs. But it was an important game for the lads - as a team, we learned that we can score big scores against the top teams. It gave us a lot of confidence with the bat, but the takeaway was finding that balance between bowling to restrict runs, and attacking to take wickets. If we can find that balance during this series we’ll be very competitive and in a better place as a whole.”
The fixtures – West Indies tour
- Jan 7: 1st Colonial Medical Insurance One-Day International – Kensington Oval, Barbados
- Jan 9: 2nd Colonial Medical Insurance One-Day International – Kensington Oval, Barbados
- Jan 12: 3rd Colonial Medical Insurance One-Day International – National Cricket Stadium, Grenada
- Jan 15: 1st Twenty20 International – National Cricket Stadium, Grenada
- Jan 18: 2nd Twenty20 International – Warner Park, St. Kitts
- Jan 19: 3rd Twenty20 International – Warner Park, St. Kitts
The main ticketing website for Cricket West Indies is: https://www.zoonga.com/irelandtour
Cricket West Indies will shortly announce broadcast arrangements for the series.
Today’s warm-up game details are here: www.cricketireland.ie/news/article/ireland-men-v-wanderers
Ireland’s ODI squad
- Andrew Balbirnie (Captain), Mark Adair, Gareth Delany, Andrew McBrine, Barry McCarthy, James McCollum, Kevin O’Brien, William Porterfield, Boyd Rankin, Simi Singh, Paul Stirling, Lorcan Tucker, Gary Wilson, Craig Young.
Ireland’s T20I squad
- Andrew Balbirnie (Captain), Mark Adair, Gareth Delany, George Dockrell, Josh Little, Barry McCarthy, Kevin O’Brien, Boyd Rankin, Simi Singh, Paul Stirling, Harry Tector, Lorcan Tucker, Gary Wilson, Craig Young.