Friday, December 9, 2022

Cricket Ireland: Interview with Mary Waldron – “I’ve never wanted to go on a tour more”

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Both the Ireland and Pakistan squads have now been announced, and Ireland’s wicketkeeper-batter Mary Waldron is as keen as ever to hit the road on what represents the first-ever cricket tour of Pakistan by an Irish team – men or women.

The Ireland Women’s squad heads to Lahore on Saturday 29 October 2022 where they will play three ICC Women’s Championship ODIs followed by three T20Is.

There aren’t many major cricket-playing nations that Waldron, a veteran of 167 caps, hasn’t played in and this one will hold a special place in her heart. Speaking between skills and fitness sessions at the Cricket Ireland High Performance Centre, Waldron said:

“I saw the fixtures come out earlier this year and I’ve never wanted to be picked for a tour more. Pakistan has played a huge part in Irish cricket, our first ever Women’s and Men’s Tests were against Pakistan, and this tour will only strengthen that bond.”

For Waldron and the Irish team, the tour is part of what is the biggest year ever in Irish women’s cricket where full-time contracts were announced, a number of the world’s leading sides toured Ireland and the squad qualified for next year’s ICC Women’s T20 World Cup in South Africa:

“Our primary aim in Abu Dhabi was to qualify for the T20 World Cup. We’ve got a really young side, but for myself, Dells [Laura Delany] and Shauna [Kavanagh] there were some scars from losing to Thailand in 2019 [a 2-run DLS loss]. So, to qualify for our first World Cup since 2018 was pretty ground-breaking. Shauna and I have been thanking Dells a lot for seeing us home against Zimbabwe!”

That Qualifier tournament has also given the squad a taste for the conditions they’re likely to encounter in Pakistan:

“Our training for this series isn’t a lot different than it was for the Qualifiers, but we’re not expecting it to be quite as hot as Abu Dhabi was. We’re continuing to do a lot of sauna training and from a wicketkeeping perspective, it’s about staying low and watching the ball. I’ll be working hard in the nets to get miles in my legs ahead of the ODIs.”

This Irish side has developed an ambitious mindset under Ed Joyce – one that’s focused more on the way they play their cricket in the knowledge that results will follow over time:

“When we look at this series, we know that Pakistan is a team we can compete with. Ed is teaching us to take the game on and take the game as close as possible. Success is more about the brand of cricket we play but any win for us away from home would be significant.”

Despite the historic nature of the tour, Waldron is conscious that there will be a significant security presence and that player’s will be fairly restricted in their movements:

“It will be a high security environment, so the importance of camaraderie among the squad cannot be under-estimated. We’re a funny group in that we’re a mix of ages. The group of girls we have are brilliant people and it’s nearly irrelevant sometimes how the cricket goes in the sense that we enjoy each other’s company regardless of if we’ve won or lost.”

Waldron is just 13 caps shy of Mary Shillington’s record of 180, but that’s not something that motivates the Dubliner.

“I just take it season by season. I don’t have any goals around caps. On a personal level I’d like to score a hundred for Ireland but I’m more driven by being a part of the wins to come and helping bring the younger players through.”

When asked about her own sporting journey and what her advice is for girls playing lots of sports, Waldron, who also captained Ireland football [soccer] team at Under–19 level, said:

“Play as many sports as you can. The different skills and attributes you pick up in the young years pays a lot of dividends. I even realise now that the skills and mobility I developed from playing basketball helped when it came to wicketkeeping.

“Even if you zone in on cricket, it’s a tough sport with not a lot of forgiveness. In football if you lose the ball you chase for it, but in cricket you might not get another chance. My advice is to have other outlets, but, in the end, settle on cricket!”

Ireland Women’s tour of Pakistan will be livestreamed on the Pakistan Cricket Board YouTube channel.

SQUADS – IRELAND

The 15-player squads for the two formats are:

ODI squad: Laura Delany (capt), Rachel Delaney, Amy Hunter, Shauna Kavanagh, Arlene Kelly, Gaby Lewis, Louise Little, Jane Maguire, Cara Murray, Leah Paul, Orla Prendergast, Celeste Raack, Eimear Richardson, Rebecca Stokell, Mary Waldron.

T20I squad: Laura Delany (capt), Amy Hunter, Shauna Kavanagh, Arlene Kelly, Gaby Lewis, Louise Little, Sophie MacMahon, Jane Maguire, Cara Murray, Leah Paul, Orla Prendergast, Celeste Raack, Eimear Richardson, Rebecca Stokell, Mary Waldron.

SQUADS – PAKISTAN

ODI squad: Bismah Maroof (capt), Aimen Anwar, Aliya Riaz, Fatima Sana, Ghulam Fatima, Kainat Imtiaz, Muneeba Ali (wk), Nashra Sandhu, Nida Dar, Omaima Sohail, Sadaf Shamas, Sadia Iqbal, Sidra Amin, Sidra Nawaz (wk) and Umm-e-Hani. Reserve players: Ayesha Naseem and Tuba Hassan

T20I squad: Bismah Maroof (capt), Aimen Anwar, Aliya Riaz, Ayesha Naseem, Fatima Sana, Javeria Khan, Kainat Imtiaz, Muneeba Ali (wk), Nida Dar, Omaima Sohail, Nashra Sandhu, Sadaf Shamas, Sadia Iqbal, Sidra Amin and Tuba Hassan. Reserve players: Ghulam Fatima, Sidra Nawaz and Umm-e-Hani

TOUR FIXTURES

The Ireland squad will arrive in Lahore on 29 October and hold training sessions on 31 October to 3 November.

The fixtures will be:

  • 4 November: Pakistan v Ireland – 1st ODI (Gaddafi Stadium, Lahore; 10am start local time)*
  • 6 November: Pakistan v Ireland – 2nd ODI (Gaddafi Stadium, Lahore; 10am start local time)*
  • 9 November: Pakistan v Ireland – 3rd ODI (Gaddafi Stadium, Lahore; 10am start local time)*

  • 12 November: Pakistan v Ireland – 1st T20I (Gaddafi Stadium, Lahore; 10am start local time)
  • 14 November: Pakistan v Ireland – 2nd T20I (Gaddafi Stadium, Lahore; 10am start local time)
  • 16 November: Pakistan v Ireland – 3rd T20I (Gaddafi Stadium, Lahore; 10am start local time)

        * the ODIs are part of the ICC Women’s Championship

UMPIRES AND MATCH OFFICIALS

  • 4 November – First ODI. Asif Yaqoob and Faisal Afridi (on-field umpires), Imran Jawed (reserve umpire); Ali Naqvi (match referee)
  • 6 November – Second ODI. Asif Yaqoob and Imran Jawed (on-field umpires), Faisal Afridi (reserve umpire); Ali Naqvi (match referee)
  • 9 November – Third ODI. Asif Yaqoob and Faisal Afridi (on-field umpires), Imran Jawed (reserve umpire); Ali Naqvi (match referee)
  • 12 November – First T20I. Asif Yaqoob and Imran Jawed (on-field umpires), Faisal Afridi (reserve umpire); Ali Naqvi (match referee)
  • 14 November – Second T20I. Asif Yaqoob and Faisal Afridi (on-field umpires), Imran Jawed (reserve umpire); Ali Naqvi (match referee)
  • 16 November – Third T20I. Asif Yaqoob and Faisal Afridi (on-field umpires), Imran Jawed (reserve umpire); Ali Naqvi (match referee)

FACTS OF INTEREST


While Ireland and Pakistan have a history of international cricket between the two sides dating back 60 years, this will be the first time a senior men’s or women’s side will have played in Pakistan.

Ireland Women and Pakistan Women first met in an international match at the 1997 Women’s World Cup, when the Irish team prevailed by 182 runs (scorecard). The two sides subsequently met in a Test match in July 2000 (scorecard) in Dublin. They have played each other 34 times across all formats (Pakistan won 25, Ireland won 9) – the last encounter being this summer when Ireland hosted Pakistan as part of a Tri-Series that also involved Australia.

Ireland will be the fourth international cricket team to visit Pakistan in 2022 after Australia, West Indies and England men’s sides toured earlier this year.

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