Ireland's Phil Simmons put Isle of Man through their paces

Thu, Jan 31, 2013 4:53 PM

Ireland's Phil Simmons put Isle of Man through their paces
Preparation for the Isle of Man’s first leap into ICC European Division 1 stepped up a level when they were put through their paces by Phil Simmons, Ireland’s national team coach and Philip Hudson, ICC Europe Regional Performance Officer.

In what was an intense two days the players were put through their paces with the focus on the technical skills of batting and bowling. Two hours of each day was allocated to theory sessions involving each player and the coaching team of Gareth Dawson, Simmons and Hudson. Discussions centred around the challenges that the squad will face in the tournament this coming July.

The group theory session took place at the IOM Sport Institute in a classroom adorned by inspirational stories about the leading sportsmen and women from the island. The Isle of Man has a proud history of developing World Class performers with Manx athletes having won three gold medals at the Commonwealth Games. Their most famous athlete of current times is the road racing cyclist Mark Cavendish MBE. At the 2012 Olympic Games held in London, Peter Kennaugh MBE became the first Manxman for 100 years to win Olympic Gold as part of the Great Britain Team Pursuit team. Isle of Man in sporting terms is famously known for hosting the Isle of Man TT (Tourist Trophy) Motorcycling Race.

The players over the two days discussed the importance of creating a training environment where self coaching was hugely important and for coaching sessions in the future to be more player led. Lists were drawn up to show current strengths both in their coaching, training set up, and standard of performance and also to recognise areas that would need to be developed prior to participation in Division 1. Simmons provided some real insight into how the Irish national team operates in match and training environments.

All players and coaches then moved to the IOM National Sports Centre for technical batting work. The batting session which was led by Hudson focused on creating a stable and consistent base during front foot play. The players highlighted in the group discussions that increasing scoring opportunities of the back foot was also an area that they wanted to focus on. With that in mind the bowling machine was cranked up with players put through their paces facing tennis balls at good speed.

Simmons put the players through an intensive fielding drill to commence the second day’s activity. Following on it was then the turn of the bowlers to be put through their paces. Simmons took the seam bowlers through some straight line drills and finished with a ‘bowling at the death’ competition which provided a competitive edge to the session. The spinners took part in a session with Hudson which was focused on drill work around alignment at the crease.

One of the key messages that Simmons and Hudson aimed to get across over the two days was that future coaching sessions needed to include a competitive edge and be increased in intensity.

The coaching weekend had come about due to IOMCA Cricket Development Officer Gareth Dawson contacting Hudson following the Islands success in the European Division 2 Championship held in Corfu. Dawson knew about the need to keep this momentum going into the forthcoming season and drive the country up the World cricket rankings.

Dawson said, “Thanks must go to Philip for making the weekend happen and to Cricket Ireland for allowing Phil Simmons to come over. It has been fantastic to have one of the ICC High Performance Programme national team coaches working with an ICC Affiliate Member country. The weekend was an unbelievable experience. It was a pleasure having Phil visit the island and we all felt extremely privileged to be able to work with him. I have received feedback from the players on how much they enjoyed the two days and now the main challenge for me as a coach and the players is maintaining the energy levels shown over the weekend.”

The players now have five months to prepare for European Division 1 which will take place in Sussex, England. The Isle of Man Cricket Association hopes to see their regional playing rankings improve through the performances of their national team in Sussex. Involvement in this ICC Regional T20 Pathway event will be the biggest competition in the Islands cricketing history with qualification for the ICC Global T20 Qualifier to be held in the UAE on offer.

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