Photo Credit: Vijay Dharam
Ireland Men’s cricket team held their first training session in Melbourne today ahead of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup this month – and wicketkeeper-batter Lorcan Tucker credits new head coach Heinrich Malan as a ‘breath of fresh air’ for a team on the rise.
Tucker, 26, made his T20I debut in 2016 against Hong Kong and has played 42 T20Is. He has struck four T20I half-centuries, with a highest score of 84 v USA – all of these half-centuries coming since his move up the batting order to number three.
He was speaking about the recent home season back in Ireland:
“It was an interesting summer at home in the sense that we felt we played very well, but without too much to show for it. I think the main thing to take from it was that we now know that we are at the right level. Previously, it might have felt that we knew we were chasing down those bigger teams and not quite with them, but we can take great confidence from this summer’s performances. It feels like we’ve got the attributes to win and it’s only a matter of time before that starts happening regularly.
“Heinrich [Malan] has been a breath of fresh air. He’s challenged us to think differently and to apply different methods to achieve the desired results. It’s no coincidence that the team is in such a strong mental state going into this tournament. On a personal level, he’s always trying to get the best out of every individual and I’ve felt a renewed sense of self-confidence in the last few months.”
Despite close matches against India and New Zealand, Ireland finally scored a morale-boosting series win over Afghanistan in August:
“We’ve had some great battles against Afghanistan, but I think this one was especially significant given the format. T20 cricket has not always been our strength and the stats will probably tell you that we’ve lost quite a number of T20Is against the Afghans. To turn the past on its head and get a series win just before a World Cup was pretty inspiring, and gave us great motivation for this coming month.”
A key change on a personal front this year has been Tucker’s establishment at number three in the T20I squad:
“It’s been a brilliant opportunity for me to bat at three. I’ve enjoyed the responsibility that comes with it, and I think it suits my style of batting nicely. It’s a great chance to give the team an energetic start – be that setting or chasing – and it’s a role I look forward to continuing into the future.”
Looking ahead, Ireland begins the first of two official warm-up games against Namibia tomorrow at the MCG, and Tucker believes his teammates need to continue that positive approach to T20Is that they displayed throughout the summer:
“I think we’ve had some pretty good experience this summer in T20 cricket. The game evolves so quickly, so it was important that we felt we were keeping pace with it. For us, it’s always about trying to be aggressive. We want to score quickly and efficiently and take wickets throughout the innings. If you can’t get on top of the opposition in T20 cricket, fair chance they’ll dominate you. We don’t want to give them that chance.”
With Zimbabwe, Scotland and West Indies coming up in the first round of the T20 World Cup, how is the squad feeling and does last year’s First Round exit provide any extra motivation?
“Last year was bitterly disappointing, but the great thing about international cricket is that there is always an opportunity to turn things around. We are very fortunate that there is another edition of the T20 World Cup so soon after the last. I think our T20 cricket is in a much stronger state this year. The motivation and the skills are there – it’s important now to try and entwine those and perform on the day.”
Ireland Men face Namibia in a warm-up match at the Melbourne Cricket Ground starting at 7pm (local time). Livescoring will be available through Cricket Ireland’s Match Centre, while a highlights package will be made available by the ICC following the game.