Saturday, April 13, 2024

Cricket Ireland: The all-rounder keen to get Test underway as Irish squad complete preparations

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Photo Credit: Bread & Butter Communications/Cricket Ireland

Ireland Men’s Curtis Campher may have enjoyed his recent stint in the Bangladesh Premier League, but says the hard work starts now as Ireland Men continue their development as a three-format team.

Campher, 24, moved to Ireland in 2020 from South Africa, and has amassed 83 international caps for Ireland, including having played in four of Ireland Men’s seven Test matches, and being part of two T20 World Cup campaigns. He qualified to play for the Men in Green having had an Irish passport as a result of having an Irish grandmother.

The Munster Reds and YMCA all-rounder has well-and-truly earned those caps with a range of performances that have imprinted his name in Irish cricket record books – and Irish cricket folklore:

  • he started his Irish international career with twin half-centuries against England (59* and 68) – he averaged 51.28 and reached double-figure scores (including four half-centuries) in his first eight ODI innings’
  • he took four wickets in four balls against Netherlands at the 2021 Men’s T20 World Cup – he has taken 57 wickets across formats
  • he has hit centuries on ODI and Test cricket (120 v Scotland in an ODI, 111 v Sri Lanka in a Test)
  • he struck 72* off 48 balls against Scotland at the 2022 Men’s T20 World Cup in a record-breaking 119* 5th-wicket partnership with George Dockrell to rescue Ireland from the brink of elimination

Campher is also renowned for his athleticism in the field taking 29 catches and effecting 11 run outs to date.

Speaking after today’s training session in Abu Dhabi, Campher said:

“I really enjoyed the BPL this year – to go back to Bangladesh for a second time for the BPL was great as I’ve now developed some knowledge of the grounds and a few of the players. It’s also really enjoyable to play in different conditions, but it has also been great experience as part of my build up to this series and a block T20 cricket leading into the T20 World Cup.”

It is coming up to four years since making your Irish debut. How do you feel the squad is progressing?

“I was made to feel very welcome early on, have settled into the system and have made some really good friends. Looking at the development of the squad over the last few years, Ireland has been breeding a new, young squad which is now growing a resilience and maturity. We’re still young but we are quite an experienced squad nonetheless – hopefully we can continue to grow and these advancement filter down through the pathway, and we can eventuallu leave Irish cricket in a better place than it was.”

As a three-format player, do you have a preferred format?

“I think for me the best format is definitely Test cricket – it’s the longest and hardest format to play, and it tests you in all different ways. It’s one of the purest forms of the game and, while white ball cricket, Test cricket is at a different level.

“Series like this can be challenging, as it can be quite difficult to switch focus between different formats – but that’s the reality of international cricket. The more you tour and play, though, the easier it becomes in facing those challenges. I want to play in all three formats as long as I can – it’s an area, as a group, we’re trying to challenge ourselves on improving.”

When you struck your Test century last year, you let out an almighty roar – what was the overriding emotion?

“I think it was just relief, maybe with some joy, having sacrificed a few things in my life. I had really put myself out there to play international cricket, to test myself in unfamiliar conditions, both personally and professionally. I think every cricketer dreams of a Test five-for or a century, so to have one of those under my belt is a great achievement. It will be something that I will be able to look back on with fond memories, but it has only made me want more – more wickets, more runs for Ireland.”

What are your international career highlights so far?

“It’s really hard to put your finger on just one or two – looking back now, beating England in an ODI during my first series – that was a massive game to be a part of. I think my favourite series would be probably the West Indies series away in early 2021 – beating them during Covid times, it was a tough trip both on and off the field, but we had great squad rapport and played really good cricket. Then probably my favourite tour would have to be the Australia T20 World Cup – to beat England again at the MCG, I think that would be my favourite World Cup experience.”

THE SERIES

  • 28 February – 3 March: Afghanistan Men v Ireland Men (Test Match; Abu Dhabi; 10am start time)
  • 7 March: Afghanistan Men v Ireland Men (ODI; Sharjah; 3.30pm start time)
  • 9 March: Afghanistan Men v Ireland Men (ODI; Sharjah; 3.30pm start time)
  • 12 March: Afghanistan Men v Ireland Men (ODI; Sharjah; 3.30pm start time)
  • 15 March: Afghanistan Men v Ireland Men (T20I; Sharjah; 8pm start time)
  • 17 March: Afghanistan Men v Ireland Men (T20I; Sharjah; 8pm start time)
  • 18 March: Afghanistan Men v Ireland Men (T20I; Sharjah; 8pm start time)

* All times quotes are local to the venue (+4 hours ahead of Ireland) 

THE SQUADS

Test squad

Mark Adair, Andrew Balbirnie (capt), Curtis Campher, George Dockrell, Matthew Foster, Graham Hume, Andy McBrine, Barry McCarthy, James McCollum, PJ Moor, Paul Stirling, Harry Tector, Lorcan Tucker, Theo van Woerkom, Craig Young

ODI squad

Mark Adair, Andrew Balbirnie, Curtis Campher, Gareth Delany, George Dockrell, Matthew Foster, Graham Hume, Andy McBrine, Barry McCarthy, Neil Rock, Paul Stirling (capt), Harry Tector, Lorcan Tucker, Theo van Woerkom, Craig Young

T20I squad

Mark Adair, Ross Adair, Andrew Balbirnie, Curtis Campher, Gareth Delany, George Dockrell, Graham Hume, Josh Little, Barry McCarthy, Neil Rock, Paul Stirling (capt), Harry Tector, Lorcan Tucker, Ben White, Craig Young

The coaching and support staff are:

  • Head Coach: Heinrich Malan
  • Batting/Wicketkeeping Coach: Gary Wilson
  • Pace Bowling Coach: Ryan Eagleson
  • Spin Bowling Coach: Chris Brown
  • Physiotherapist: Mark Rausa
  • Strength & Conditioning Coach: Brendan Connor
  • Performance Analyst: Scott Irvine
  • Team Operations Manager: Chris Siddell

BROADCAST

We are awaiting advice from the Afghanistan Cricket Board about how fans can watch the series.

LIVESCORING AND UPDATES

As always, livescoring is available on www.cricketireland.ie and regular updates via Cricket Ireland social media channels.

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