Cricket Ireland: Captain’s Pre-Series interaction – Laura Delany on caps, captaincy and cricket life

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Photo Credit: Sportsfile

The Ireland Women’s team have arrived in Spain for their multi-format series – including a historic first-ever ODI series between the sides – and captain Laura Delany has been speaking in a wide-ranging interview ahead of the opening game which takes place tomorrow morning, 17 October staring at 10.45am local time (9.45 Ireland time).   

The following is a transcription of the Q+A session:

You are now the most-capped Ireland women’s cricketer – did you ever think you’d hold that mantle when you debuted in 2010?

“Definitely not, it’s not something that I ever thought about at the time. When I first came into the squad, I just came in and loved the game and wanted to play as much as I could. I think things have definitely changed over the last few years. I’m super competitive and I always want to contribute. I’m probably one of the most competitive people on the team, I want us to win every single game, so I think that’s where my head is at in terms of what I want to achieve.

“It’s brilliant, obviously to take to the pitch, but it’s not about the number of caps that you have, it’s about what you do with those caps. And I always wanted to be a player that will take the ball in a pressurised situation, or help the team get across the line, particularly when we need it, or put in that big partnership. As a player that’s where my focus is at. I’m very proud to be in a position where I’ve had the opportunity to take the to the pitch as many times as I’ve had.”

This is an historic ODI series as it is Scotland Women’s first-ever ODIs after getting status late 2022 – what do we expect from them in this format?

“Yeah, it’s going to be a different challenge. We obviously haven’t played them in the ODI format, but they have players that are playing county cricket over in the UK, which is obviously a very high standard. They have players that play in their Rachel Heyhoe Flynn Trophy, so they obviously have a lot of experience in playing 50-over cricket against competitive sides in that county set-up.

“For us, it’s just trying to do the basics for a longer period of time, and how consistently they can do that is something that we’ll be obviously to looking to restrict. But in terms of what we’re expecting from them, just really competitive games.”

We have a little bit of experience of Desert Springs, but what conditions are we expecting tomorrow?

“We obviously haven’t played a series here in Desert Springs before. We had a warm-up series out here in January. We had a couple of centre wicket sessions and we watched some of the footage of the Scotland series there recently but have yet to get out and train on the wickets ourselves. So tomorrow will be our first opportunity to see how it plays. Obviously the weather right here is pretty nice, so we expect it to be a good wicket to bat on, but I suppose we’ll find out more tomorrow. There’s a couple of pitches that will be used throughout the tournament, so we’ll be pretty much playing on the same pitches for the whole series.” 

Our most recent ODIs in the last 18 months have included series against Australia, West Indies, Pakistan and South Africa – while on paper the results haven’t gone our way – how do you assess where our ODI cricket is at?

“I think ODI cricket is obviously a very different format to T20 cricket, and I think our biggest challenge is performing the basics for a prolonged period of time. We’ve built partnerships, but now it’s just making sure that those partnerships turn into very big partnerships and give a platform then for a middle and lower order to come in and excel with.

“And likewise with the ball, I think just staying really patient and disciplined, trying to hit our line and length, and again just doing that for a longer period of time I suppose will probably be our biggest challenge. But I think we showed in the Australia series that younger players have definitely gone out and taken their opportunities with both the bat and ball, which is bringing to see. There’s always the experience there with Arlo (Arlene Kelly) as well as a bowler. So yeah, really looking forward to getting started.” 

Joanna Loughran has been called up to the squad for the first time. What does she bring to the squad?

“Yeah, Joanna’s being brought into the squad. It’s a brilliant opportunity for her to come into the squad with both Mary (Waldron) and Shauna (Kavanagh) retiring. I suppose Amy (Hunter) is the first choice keeper at the moment and has earned that spot through her performances, but it’s really important that there are other players in around that area that are coming through the ranks and have the same level of experience. Her journey is starting now, so that if anything does happen, she’ll be ready to go when we need her. But it’s a brilliant opportunity for her to come in, be around the squad, see what it’s like to be on a Senior Women’s tour, and just relish the opportunity of being in a more professional environment and soak up all the information and learnings that she can.” 

You recently said that the new players that have come into the senior setup have given you a new wave of energy in your cricket. Can you expand on that please – how do you feel your game has changed over the last 18 months/2 years?

“I’ve definitely done a lot of work with my batting with Ed (Joyce). I think with the ball I’m just trying to be as disciplined as possible, I’m no speedster, so I’m not going to come in and blow players away. What I rely on is hitting a consistent line and length, and my variations, which will hopefully draw players in and create wicket-taking opportunities. And then with the bat, I’m not this big expansive player that is going to whack boundaries from the offset. I’m someone that likes to accumulate and then put the bad balls away, and I think one area that I’m trying to work on is to, increase going from 2nd to 3rd to 4th gear a little bit quicker, particularly now batting in that number five position in the ODI format. I’ve obviously still a lot to work to do, but I’m happy with some of the progress that I’ve made over the last couple of years with Ed.” 

How did you enjoy your stint in the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy there recently with Thunder?

“I absolutely loved my time away with Thunder. It was really refreshing to be in a different environment, work with different people and different players. Obviously the standard over there is slightly different to what we have in Ireland. I suppose that’s something that our domestic structure is probably building towards. It was brilliant to go over there and play at such a competitive level. Coming in as an overseas player there is obviously a little bit more expectation internally, but it’s a great challenge as an individual to try and step up and put yourself in a position where you want to take on more responsibility with a team that you don’t really know terribly well. It was a brilliant environment. Everyone was super encouraging and supportive.”

The last games played were around a month to 6 weeks ago – how has the squad prepared for the series?

“Yeah, our last series was against Netherlands in Holland, which I think was at the start of August. We’ve obviously had a bit of time off since then.  We’ve been training for the last couple of weeks and had two weeks off before that, which I think is really important because we have had an intense few months, which is exactly what we’re after. We want to play as much cricket as possible. But it’s nice to have a couple of weeks away to just refresh, switch off, and then go again. We haven’t really had a huge amount of time here in Desert Springs. We have our first training session today and then straight into our first game tomorrow, but we’ve obviously been out here before and know the set up, and now how the wickets are going to play in the nets. It’s just about adjusting now to the wickets as soon as we go out and play that first game tomorrow.” 

What has been Ed’s message to the squad ahead of the series?

“Ed’s message as a coach has been pretty consistent. Just go out and play and express yourself in the way that you know that you can. My message to the team is to just go out and enjoy it, but make sure that we’re as competitive and ruthless as possible in all aspects. Our aim as a group is to come over here and to play with that fearless mindset, to be as professional as possible and to relish the opportunity of playing an international home series away from home.”

FIXTURES

One-Day Internationals (ODIs):

  • 17 October: Ireland Women v Scotland Women – 1st ODI (Desert Springs; starts 10.45am local time)
  • 19 October: Ireland Women v Scotland Women – 2nd ODI (Desert Springs; starts 10.45am local time)
  • 21 October: Ireland Women v Scotland Women – 3rd ODI (Desert Springs; starts 10.45am local time)

T20 International (T20Is):

  • 23 October: Ireland Women v Scotland Women – 1st T20I (Desert Springs; starts 2pm local time)
  • 24 October: Ireland Women v Scotland Women – 2nd T20I (Desert Springs; starts 2pm local time)

SQUADS

Ireland Women’s squad

  • Laura Delany (captain), Ava Canning, Alana Dalzell, Georgina Dempsey, Amy Hunter, Arlene Kelly, Gaby Lewis, Louise Little, Joanna Loughran, Sophie MacMahon, Cara Murray, Leah Paul, Orla Prendergast, Freya Sargent, Rebecca Stokell.

Scotland Women’s squad

  • Kathryn Bryce (captain), Olivia Bell, Sarah Bryce, Darcey Carter, Priyanaz Chatterji, Maryam Faisal, Lorna Jack, Ailsa Lister, Abtaha, Maqsood, Megan McColl, Hannah Rainey, Niamh Robertson-Jack, Nayma Sheikh, Ellen Watson.

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