Cricket Ireland: U19 World Cup Optimism

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Photo Credit: Cricket Ireland

Head Coach Pete Johnston says squad aiming high as U19 World Cup approaches

Preparations are well underway for Ireland Under-19s Men’s squad ahead of their participation in the 2024 ICC Men’s Under-19 Cricket World Cup in South Africa next month.

Ireland’s 15-player squad was named last week, and it features ten players who toured South Africa in March 2023, where they played matches against SSE Cricket (Titans Academy) at the University of Pretoria. It also features twelve players who were part of the squad that beat England Under-19s for the very first time during the summer.

The squad will spend the festive period at home before flying out to South Africa on 2 January, where they’ll play a series of warm-up matches ahead of the tournament (fixtures to be announced).

Speaking recently during an indoor training session at North County Cricket Club, Head Coach and Academy and Performance Manager, Peter Johnston spoke about how preparations were going:

It’s going very well, the guys have been working hard. They are now into a really busy programme, initially with strengthening, and now we’ve added in the skills over these last few weeks.

We’ve also given them some education around nutrition and psychology, so there’s a lot going on. Then there’s obviously the challenge of combining their studies, being organised, and planning their weeks accordingly.

So, what do the next few weeks look like for the squad:

We’ll be heading out to South Africa a week early, leaving on 29 December and then going into the tournament on the 7 January. We’re hoping to play a series against a full member, probably get three games in that space of time, and some training sessions which will stand us in good stead. Then we head into two warm up games and on to the group games, which will be against USA, Bangladesh, and India.

This World Cup is a different format to what we’ve experienced in the past. I think it’s very important that we finish at least third in the group in order to get crossover matches against other teams, and then hopefully progress from there. But look, it’s a huge opportunity – I think we have to aim high. And given the depth and the squad, hopefully we can get one, if not two wins out of that group. Two wins I think would put us in a really good position going into those crossover matches.

How does a tournament like the ICC Men’s Under-19 World Cup benefit the players:

We have a really competitive squad. However, being in this system, the training they’ve done and the commitment that everyone has put in is really the start of it. I think Under-19s is really that transition to a high-performance space, and I’m always conscious of that. Players develop at different ages and rates, so it’s not a defining factor for any of these players. We’ve seen plenty of players develop that haven’t come through the Under-19s. But yeah, it’s a brilliant experience. I think the competition simulates senior World Cups incredibly well. The exposure that the players will get, just touring for a long period of time, the exposure to different styles of play from different countries, different conditions, the benefits are endless.

What’s the difference between coaching a senior side compared to an Under-19 side:

With a senior tour, I suppose players take a little bit more ownership. But essentially, you want these [under-19s] players to speed up their development and take that ownership themselves, and responsibility themselves as well. There’s a little bit more guiding and nurturing and, a little bit more sort of getting feedback from the players and guidance, but you want them to go and start doing what they will have to do when they step up to senior cricket. So not that much difference really, and I think we do have a very professional bunch of lads.

On what the travelling support means to both the squad, and staff:

Yeah, it’s brilliant. Even when we went to England during the summer to play the counties, and then England’s full side, the support that came over was incredible. And being a parent myself, I do recognise the challenges we put parents under in terms of getting their children, sons, and daughters to and from training. It’s a team effort really with parents and family.

THE SQUAD

  • Macdara Cosgrave (Pembroke Cricket Club), Harry Dyer (CSNI Cricket Club), Daniel Forkin (Merrion Cricket Club), Kian Hilton (Cliftonville Academy), Ryan Hunter (CSNI Cricket Club), Philippe le Roux (captain) (Railway Union Cricket Club), Finn Lutton (CSNI Cricket Club), Scott Macbeth (Brigade Cricket Club), Carson McCullough (CIYMS Cricket Club), John McNally (Clontarf Cricket Club), Jordan Neill (Merrion Cricket Club), Oliver Riley (YMCA Cricket Club), Gavin Roulston (Bready Cricket Club), Matthew Weldon (The Hills Cricket Club), Reuben Wilson (YMCA Cricket Club)

Non-Travelling Reserves: Adam Leckey (CSNI Cricket Club), Hayden Melly (Brigade Cricket Club), James West (CSNI Cricket Club)

Coaching and Support staff: Peter Johnston (Head Coach), Abert van der Merwe (Manager), Andre Botha (Assistant Coach), Darren Nicol (Physiotherapist), Ollie Kanavan (Analyst), Stuart Thompson (Strength & Conditioning)

SCHEDULE

Ireland’s Group A schedule is as follows:

  • 19 January: Ireland U-19 v USA U-19; Manguang Oval, Bloemfontein.
  • 22 January: Ireland U-19 v Bangladesh U-19; Manguang Oval, Bloemfontein.
  • 25 January: Ireland U-19 v India U-19; Manguang Oval, Bloemfontein.

(see further information and full tournament schedule here)

The other Groups are:

  • Group B: England, South Africa, West Indies and Scotland
  • Group C: Australia, Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe and Namibia
  • Group D: Afghanistan, Pakistan, New Zealand and Nepal.

The top three sides from each group progress to the Super Six phase of the event, with each team carrying forward the number of points, Wins, NRR that they earned against their fellow super-six qualifying teams. The Super Six will get underway on 30 January. The top two teams from each group in the Super Six stage will then reach to the semi-finals.

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