Ireland's Brian Walsh talks about the squads World Cup preparations
Sun, Feb 17, 2008 11:19 AM
Ireland's Manager Brian Walsh talks about the squads preparation in India:
"Our preparations have been extensive, and the team have been working hard since last September, having training sessions every week alternating between Dublin and Belfast.
In addition to Brian O' Rourke, national coach Phil Simmons was heavily involved, and as a result of what he saw, four of the Under 19's were drafted into the Winter training squad.
We also brought in for the first time a specialist strengthening and conditioning coach from the Sports Institue of Northern Ireland, and this helped the boys tremendously in regards to their personal fitness.
It is always very difficult for our teams to compete in the middle of the British winter, as it's six months since we have played competitive cricket. We are facing teams in the middle of their domestic season, and who are accustomed to not only the heat, but also more importantly, the humidity.
In that regard we owe a great debt to ICC Europe who provided financial assistance in order for us to play in the competition, but on top of that, the ICC European Development Manager, Richard Holdsworth secured funding which enabled us to go for the first time to India for 5 days on our way to Kuala Lumpur.
This is really appreciated, as without this money, we wouldn't have been able to acclimatise properly for the conditions we will encounter as the tournament gets under way.
India was a tremendous benefit to the squad. We trained hard for the first 3 days, then had games on the last two days. Our first game was against a very strong Mumbai Under 19 side who compete in the National competition, and the second fixture saw us play at the famous Cricket Club of India (CCI) ground in Mumbai.
The level of the opposition was very strong, with 3 Ranji Trophy players in the CCI side. We did remarkably well to score 221-8 in our 45 overs, and only lost the game with 9 balls remaining.
Playing in India was the experience of a lifetime for the guys. We were playing and training in an area where there were 20 pitches side by side. We had 3 grass practice wickets, and the facilities were excellent. We had net bowlers provided to us of a very good standard, and our preparation couldn't have been better.
The Test ground at CCI was the highlight for the squad. Playing at such a famous and prestigious venue will live long in the memory for all the players. By an amazing coincidence, on the day we were playing, 20 Lords Taverners cricketers from Dublin arrived on a 9 day Indian tour. Among their party was former Irish Cricket Union President Stan Mitchell, who was delighted at the opportunity to wish the World Cup squad all the best in Malaysia.
CCI is the home club of Sachin Tendulkar - we had a special dinner at his restaurant in Mumbai which is filled with all sorts of his memorabilia - another memory for everyone to cherish.
Finally, I'd just like to reiterate my thanks to ICC Europe, who have made it possible for us to get good preparation on our way to represent Europe at the World Cup. Without Richard's assistance and generosity, this just could not have happened. It has provided the players and the management an opportunity of a lifetime to train, play and witness high level cricket at top quality venues in India."