Thursday, May 30, 2024

There is more confidence and self-belief within the team: Ireland captain Delany

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CHENNAI: Despite not facing the United Arab Emirates ever before in the T20Is, Ireland registered a win in the T20 World Cup Qualifiers opener at the Zayed Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi.

In the lead-up to the tournament, captain Laura Delany spoke to This Daily about learnings from the World Cup in 2023, youngsters in the side, and how contracts have changed the way the side plays cricket.

Excerpts:

On the experience from the World Cup campaign in South Africa

I think, there is a lot more confidence and self-belief within the team. This will probably be one of the most challenging qualifiers we have been part of looking at the teams we are playing against.

For example Zimbabwe. We won the series against them but they were missing a few key players. We have never played against the likes of Vanuatu or UAE. So there are going to be challenges that we have never faced before. I think, having gone to the World Cup in South Africa, a few players really stood out and showed that they could compete against some of the best sides in the world. You take a lot of confidence from that. You can see that the likes of Amy Hunter and Orla Prendergast have performed over the last 12 months and I hope they keep going from strength to strength. There is a lot of depth in the side and we will see that throughout the tournament.

On the youngsters in the team

It is an incredibly exciting time for Ireland cricket right now to see these two young players show no fear whatsoever while playing such aggressive and attacking cricket in this format. They are not scared of doing it against the best sides in the world. It is a great place to be in. They have got so much time to learn about their game and gain that experience. To see what they are doing right now is incredible for us as a team and it is going to be exciting to see where they are taking their careers, not only with Cricket Ireland but also with the franchise opportunities down the line. Once you get into franchise tournaments, you start to learn more and there are more expectations and pressure. And you bring those learnings back to your team so again you are growing.

On being part of the ODI Championship

Since we have come into the ICC ODI Championship, a lot has changed for us as Irish cricketers. Most of us are now on some sort of contract. A lot of us are on full-time contracts, which means we can train regularly and have full availability for tours. This is really good because we are playing against the best sides in the world and have guaranteed fixtures each year so this is a good sign because that is the only way we are going to get better, playing more games and against better opposition. We wouldn’t have played against the likes of Pakistan or Bangladesh regularly. They are ranked only a little bit ahead of us but only now we are getting the chance to play against them and in away conditions, and it is quite challenging. It has been great for us because many girls before going to Pakistan had never played in the subcontinent before. Then you come to somewhere like Dubai where the pitches are turning more than what we are used to, it’s all a valuable experience and hopefully we can show that in this tournament.

On full-time contracts and their impact

We train three to four times a week now as a group. We can prioritise our gym sessions and our recovery. We are fully available for any tour that we are selected for. Previously, we were working in a full-time or part-time job and were really trying to squeeze the training either in the morning or in the evening. Recovery was never really a priority. We used to try and see the physio and Strength and Conditioning coaches when we could, but again we had to squeeze all of it in our diary but not actually make it a priority. Even things like video analysis, which is something now we are doing ahead of going away whereas previously we would have waited till we got on tour and then we would have started looking at the opposition and then started making our plans. Access and resources like this are crucial because they are all the things that make the changes.

On the transition of players from U19 to senior side

For those players who had the opportunity to go and represent Ireland in the U19 T20 World Cup, it was a massive experience for them. They were playing alongside players who were of similar age and experience. It is good because when they come to the senior side, a lot is expected out of them. It can be a tough transition for a lot of players. So for them to have this opportunity to go away and play on the world stage but at the same time, at their own level was critical because you were playing against the players who have similar skills but not that ahead of you.

Impact of head coach Ed Joyce

The one thing that Ed has brought to this team is the ‘go out and express yourself the way you know you can’ motto. I think you can see that with our top order as they play such aggressive cricket with a fearless approach. He has also made sure that everyone on the side contributes. That’s incredibly important because as a national side, the only way we are going to beat better sides is when we are making sure that everyone contributes. We can have an opener go and score a fifty, but the only way we are winning that game is by making sure your bowling and fielding unit back that up. Our management side plays a huge role in the success that we have had so far. At the end of the day, it is all about being one unit and we appreciate everything they bring to allow us to be the best version of ourselves as athletes.

Brief score

UAE: 105/9 in 20 overs (Khushi Sharma 24; Arlene Kelly 2/12, Eimear Richardson 2/15) lost to Ireland 106/4 in 16.1 oves (Gaby Lewis 27; Esha Oza 3/13)

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