Cricket must keep expanding - Gary Wilson
We caught up with Surrey and Ireland wicket-keeper batsman Gary Wilson, who took time out from Ireland's tour of Australia, to chat with us about all things cricket as well as golf and his partnership with SF Stanford.
With Ireland leading the charge for the Associate nations to be given more opportunities at the highest level, he says that cricket has to keep expanding to ensure the game continues to move forward.
Cricket World (CW): You're in Australia at the moment, using SF Stanford cricket equipment, how did that relationship start?
Gary Wilson (GW): My agent Eddie Tolchard at Insignia Sports and I were talking about kit manufacturers, I asked him to put word around that I was looking to move, he said he had good relationships with SF and asked whether I would be interested in them.
They sent over some gear to trial, I thought it was pretty good so went ahead and signed a contract.
CW: They manufacture for other sports suppliers too, so how would you rate the equipment?
GW: It's really good, Indian bats over the years have been second to none really. SF have been really good with me, they've taken the exact shape I want and moulded, set up templates for me, and been really generous with kit they have provided.
CW: And they are looking after you well?
GW: So far so good, it's only been a year, but everything I've asked for has been here within a couple of weeks really - so I can't have any complaints.
CW: For an international cricketer now, there is a lot of travel around the world, as well as playing county cricket, isn't there?
GW: It's sort of a 12 month a year gig now really, like I say we're in Australia now, then we go to the World T20 in India after that and then a tour in South Africa at the end of the county season as well. It's kind of all go really, so it's important to have all kit ready.
CW: Certainly during my lifetime, Ireland cricket has really taken off and expanded, and the players are now world class.
GW: Since 2007, when the lads made it through to the Super 8s in the Caribbean I think the world took notice a bit and really Irish cricket was put on the map.
Since then I think we've gone from strength to strength, both as an organisation and a group of players. We've been pretty lucky with the players we've had over that period of time.
We have seen some good results over those years, we won the Intercontinental cup a number of times, we've won countless 20-over and 50-over competitions at Associate level and we've turned over some pretty big teams at World Cups.
It's now the time we have to kick on either further, obviously the quest for Test status and things like that, it's a pretty big period in Irish crickets history so hopefully we can all have a hand in that.
CW: I think it's an interesting time for cricket, Test cricket and T20; there is talk of a Test Championship and maybe bringing the three formats into a series so each gets different points - I think that could work really well for Test cricket.
GW: I don't know much about that format, but I think the Test format is still the pinnacle of the game. If you ask any player they will stay say they want to test themselves at the highest level and for me that is still Test cricket.
If we finish top of the Intercontinental Cup then we get a shot at the lowest rank team, in 2017, so there is some light at the end of the tunnel now. Cricket Ireland are doing all they can to ensure we get there.
CW: I've spoken to a number of Irish players and they're all looking forward to the challenges ahead, and particularly the World T20, are you looking forward to that?
GW: Definitely, any time you get the opportunity to showcase what you can do on the world stage is brilliant. Hopefully the ICC are still in the position to look over the 50-over World Cup as well and not reduce the amount of teams in that, it would be really sad for sports.
Just round the corner is the T20 World Cup, so that's what we have to focus on now.
The focus is really about T20 cricket, and we've got some good warm ups before the World Cup, then it will be straight into that and trying to get past the preliminary stage and onto the main event it's self.
CW: It's an amazing thing to realise a dream, can you put into words what It's like to do that - playing for Surrey and your country?
GW: I think you need a little bit of luck as well as talent, things have to happen for you at the right time, obviously it was a massive goal of mine to go on and play professional cricket for Ireland and I wouldn't wish it any other way really.
I realise I'm incredibly lucky to be doing something I love, and growing up that was all I wanted to do.
I didn't have a back-up plan if I'm honest, going through school, I've seen so many talented guys fall by the wayside really, through no fault of there own just a bit of bad luck here and there, you realise how small the margins are really.
I'm very appreciative and count myself very lucky to have the career so far I've had and hope it goes on for a few more years.
CW: How do you switch off in your downtime?
GW: I like golf, whenever we get a few days off you will usually find me on a golf course, hacking a course up somewhere in Surrey I guess. Me and a few of the other lads get down to Allerton or Dulwich and have a hit around there.
CW: Looking forward, who are going to be the game changers in World T20 squad for Ireland?
GW: Paul Stirling is really keen to have a big world tournament, and I think he has buckets of talent so he's the one I'd be looking at to have a big impact for Ireland in the next World T20.
It's great to have Boyd Rankin back and I think spin will play a big part as well, with George Dockrell and we have a young off spinner called Andrew McBrine who is a pretty tough little cricketer, they will have pretty big roles to play.
CW: What about the number of teams that should be playing in the T20 World Cup? We campaigned about seven years ago to have it expanded to 32 teams, just like the Football World Cup and then group them in fours. I think thats the way to get more interest in cricket around the world. What do you reckon?
GW: It's important cricket does keep expanding, if you look at the rugby union and football, two of the bigger World Cups if you like, they've got masses of teams playing in there whereas cricket seems to be contracting the number of teams taking part in world events.
I'm sure the organisers have their reasons for that, but we have to be very careful to not shut teams off. What people have to realise is that playing in world tournaments create sponsorship opportunities for these countries, without those they may not be able to pay salaries and before we know it we're back where we started 10-15 years ago.
I know Cricket Ireland are doing a great job there, and sometimes I'm sure they feel like they're banging their head against a brick wall, but as I say with Test cricket we're seeing a little light at the end of the tunnel. As players all we can do is keep putting in performances on the pitch and force the guys who make the decisions hand really into keeping us around.
You would have to go a long way to find someone who didn't want to see Ireland in the World Cup, I think we've provided so many good patches of great entertainment in world entertainment so it would be a real shame if there was one and we weren't there because we always seem to turn up and cause an upset or two and as I say if we can keep putting the performances on the pitch that can continue.
© Cricket World 2016