Cricket Ireland: Ireland Academy captain Sam Harbinson excited to lead squad on Spanish adventure

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Photo Credit: Sportsfile

Merrion all-rounder Sam Harbinson has been named captain of the Ireland Academy side that left for Malaga, Spain earlier today to play in the 2023 European Cricket Championships (ECC).

Australian-born Harbinson, 28, had an excellent impact in his first season of white-ball Inter-Provincial cricket whilst playing for Leinster Lightning this year.

He made his Inter-Provincial debut for the Lightning in their 50-over game against North West Warriors in Bready back in May, scoring an unbeaten 48*. He also took 2-25 with the ball as an under-strength Lightning side won by three wickets. He followed that up with scores of 45* and 43*.

On the eve of the squads departure to Spain, Harbinson spoke about being selected for Ireland, being named captain and about the upcoming tournament:

“Getting the call up for the European T10 Championships was fantastic. I got a call from Andre Botha towards the end of the season to say my name had been put forward for selection for the Ireland Academy team for the European Cricket Championships. To be honest, I was pretty humbled and excited about the news. The competition gets underway on Thursday, so it should be a good challenge, and I know that the lads are really keen and up for up for what’s ahead.

“Being named captain of the team is a massive honour. It’s certainly something I’m very excited about. I had a little bit of a taste of it in junior and pathway cricket, but it did definitely come out of blue. I wasn’t expecting to be asked to captain the team, but I obviously didn’t think twice about the opportunity when asked if I wanted to do it. I think it’s going to be a good challenge, and it’s something I think in the future I’ll definitely be keen to pursue, whether it’s club cricket, Inter-Pro cricket, or whatever opportunity comes in the way.

Harbinson is an Irish passport holder – both of his grandparents are from County Antrim – and his debut was quite a poignant moment for him and his family:

“To be able to contribute to the win the way I did, and to be named player of the match was an honour. It was nice for my family as well, with the game played in Northern Ireland where my grandparents were both born. However, they passed away a few years ago. But I do know it was a pretty proud moment for my dad in particular.

“My inter-provincial debut happened a lot earlier than I thought it would, but to get the call up nice and early in the season was nice. Going up to Bready, making my debut, and getting the win there with a pretty under-strength Lightning squad was a really enjoyable experience.”

While he was happy with his performances with the bat, he’s always looking to improve:

“Obviously you always want to be scoring more runs than what you do, particularly if it’s 30s and 40s. You always want them to turn into 80s, 90s and hundreds, which is where I want to be next season with the Lightning. I want to be playing those roles with a bit more responsibility.

“From a club point of view with Merrion – it was an enjoyable season from a personal point of view. However, a little bit disappointing to not go a bit further as a unit. We had such a talented team, and we all felt we underachieved there without winning any cups or being a bit more competitive in the Premier League. So next season we definitely want to be up there fighting for championships and trophies.”

Looking ahead to the European Cricket Championships, have you played any T10 cricket before:

“No, I haven’t played any T10 cricket before, but I’ve played plenty of T20 cricket. I know it’s very fast-paced. You really have to play to your strengths in these short formats and I think fielding particularly becomes more important than the runs, you could say. With the ball you just need to stay ahead of the batsman, be nice and proactive with your plans, use plenty of variations, particularly on smaller grounds.

“And as a batter, we just really need to play to your strengths, and have a plan for each bowler where you’re looking to score. But I think even in these formats you still have a little bit more time than what you actually think when you’re out there. So, it’s really about breaking it down and just backing yourself 100%.

“However, I do think my game is suited to T10 or T20 cricket. I love going out there and having the freedom to express myself and clear the ropes. It’s definitely a very exciting format of cricket and something I definitely spend a lot of time practising. So, I’m really excited for the challenges ahead of T10 cricket and no doubt we’re looking to take it deep in this tournament.

“I’m very excited and can’t wait for the tournament to start now.”

Ireland Academy Head Coach Peter Johnston on the selection of Harbinson as captain, said:

“With such a young squad ranging from 16 to 21 years old, at 28, Sam will bring plenty of experience. He has been in and around professional environments now in Victoria, Tasmania, and with Leinster Lightning, whilst also having responsibility as a professional player and assistant coach at Merrion. Most noticeably his leadership skills have been very evident at training along with his game sense and how he goes about supporting others.”

IRELAND ACADEMY SQUAD


Sam Harbinson (Merrion) (captain), Seamus Lynch (Terenure), Liam Doherty (Eglinton), Cameron Melly (Brigade), Tim Tector (YMCA), Scott Macbeth (Brigade), Gavin Hoey (Trinity/Pembroke), Jared Wilson (Cliftonville Academy), John McNally (Clontarf), Carson McCullough (CIYMS), Olly Riley (YMCA), Mike Frost (Malahide), Adam Kennedy (CIYMS).

Head Coach: Peter Johnston
Assistant Coach/Manager: Albert van der Merwe

IRELAND ACADEMY FIXTURES


The fixtures are all played at Cartama Oval in Malaga, Spain:

• 5 October: Ireland Academy v Austria (starts 10.30am)
• 5 October: Ireland Academy v Türkyie (starts 3pm)
• 6 October: Ireland Academy v Hungary (starts 1pm)
• 6 October: Ireland Academy v Finland (starts 7.30pm)
• 7 October: Eliminator starts (10.30 am)
• 7 October: Qualifier One (starts 1pm)
• 7 October: Qualifier Two (starts 4pm)
• 7 October: Group Final (starts 7.30pm)

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