Interview with Ireland's Lorcan Tucker ahead of UAE and Afghanistan series'
With the approach of the first competitive international of 2021, Ireland Men’s wicketkeeper Lorcan Tucker spoke about the last 12 months, feeling more comfortable at international level and his expectations ahead for the UAE and Afghanistan fixtures.
Dublin-born Tucker, 24, made his senior international in 2016 and has been capped 28 times for Ireland. He was speaking from the team hotel:
“It was an unusually long break from international cricket since the England series. I think the way international cricket is structured means you play a lot of cricket typically, but unfortunately that hasn't been the case in 2020. Everyone who's involved in the group is itching to get back playing and competing.”
“Saying that, I thought we had a good year as a team. I'm going to hold back from using the word 'great', as we hope that performances like that become more and more regular. It was fabulous to be involved in those victories in 2020, and I know that win against England in an empty stadium will always be an especially fond memory. Even though we lost the first ODI against England, I'd consider that a highlight of the year simply due to the fact that it was brilliant to be back playing again after many difficult months of lockdown. Credit is due to both Cricket Ireland and the ECB for making that happen.”
Asked about preparations coming into this tour, he said:
“Given that we had a long period of time before this series, I think it was an opportunity to work on things you don't usually get around to mid-season. Whether that's stripping back your technique, developing new skills or focusing on strength and conditioning, it was good for me personally to take a step back and evaluate what I needed to do to improve.”
There has been much talk in cricket circles about the challenges of bio-bubble life – how have Lorcan found it?
“Yeah, the bubble life is something we're all still getting used to. This one differs from the England one in that we had to do three days of in-room isolation when we arrived. Since then, everyone has just been happy to be out and about, even with the limitations. I know I definitely miss being able to leave the hotel and go out for dinner or a round of golf among other things. I suspect those feelings will grow stronger as the tour continues. Despite that, being able to play cricket in sunny Abu Dhabi, given the situation at home, is something I feel very lucky to be doing.”
After 28 matches for Ireland, does he now feel comfortable at international level?
“It's been brilliant for me to get so much game time in the senior team recently. I often felt in the past that my keeping was slightly off the pace for the international level. For myself, I feel I have bridged that gap with hard work and commitment over the last 18 months. I wouldn't see myself as a 'regular' in the team and I know that I have to perform and show consistency to hold my place. I will be striving to do that as we start our campaign for 2021.”
Neil Rock has joined the squad as back-up keeper on his first senior international tour – does Lorcan remember your first senior international tour and what did he learn from it?
“Yes, my first tour was to Dubai in January 2017 for the Desert T20 competition. I do remember it taking a while to get used to the workings of the senior team from things like seats on the bus to training structures, but I was just delighted to be out there mixing it with the best. I hope Pebbles [Neil Rock] feels the same and I hope I can help make his insertion into the squad as enjoyable as possible.”
Looking ahead to the series, what do we expect from conditions and how important will it be for the Afghan series to produce some good performances against the UAE?
“We're obviously expecting it to be hot and dry. Given the amount of cricket that's been played here with the IPL and whatnot, we're expecting to face a lot of spin on these dry pitches, especially from the Afghans. We know that a lot of confidence can be gained by putting in some strong performances against the UAE and should we do that, it will hold us in good stead for the three World Cup Super League ODI's against Afghanistan.”
The international fixtures, which will be played at the Zayed Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi, are:
- UAE v Ireland – 1st ODI – 8 Jan 2021 (start: 9.30am local time / 5.30am Irish time)
- UAE v Ireland – 2nd ODI – 10 Jan 2021 (start: 9.30am local time / 5.30am Irish time)
- UAE v Ireland – 3rd ODI – 12 Jan 2021 (start: 9.30am local time / 5.30am Irish time)
- UAE v Ireland – 4th ODI – 14 Jan 2021 (start: 9.30am local time / 5.30am Irish time)
- Afghanistan v Ireland – 1st ODI – 18 Jan 2021 (start: 9.30am local time / 5.30am Irish time)
- Afghanistan v Ireland – 2nd ODI – 21 Jan 2021 (start: 9.30am local time / 5.30am Irish time)
- Afghanistan v Ireland – 3rd ODI – 23 Jan 2021 (start: 9.30am local time / 5.30am Irish time)
The matches against Afghanistan will be part of the World Cup Super League (see below for details).
LIVESTREAM / BROADCAST
Matches will be livestreamed via Youtube in Ireland / UK, with further details made available closer to the match days. For the rest of the world, the series with either be shown on satellite television or livestreamed, so please check local guides.
The Ireland Men’s squad is:
- Andrew Balbirnie (C), Mark Adair, Curtis Campher, David Delany, Gareth Delany, Josh Little, Andrew McBrine, Barry McCarthy, James McCollum, Kevin O’Brien, Neil Rock, Simi Singh, Paul Stirling, Harry Tector, Lorcan Tucker, Craig Young.
WORLD CUP SUPER LEAGUE
Matches played as part of the inaugural ICC Cricket World Cup Super League (2020-2023) are essentially World Cup Qualifier matches, as the League will serve as part of the 2023 Cricket World Cup Qualification process.
The WCSL features thirteen teams, the twelve Full members of the International Cricket Council (ICC), and the Netherlands (who won the 2015–17 ICC World Cricket League Championship to qualify for this competition). Each team will play an ODI series against eight of the twelve opponents, four series at home and four away. Each series will consist of three ODIs. For the World Cup, the hosts (India in 2023), and the top seven-ranked sides thereafter, will qualify automatically. The remaining five teams will play in a qualifying event along with five Associate sides, from which two sides will go through to the final tournament.