Irish Under-19’s hope to get over-heartache of near-miss from ICC Europe Under-19 Qualifier to take the 16th and final place available for the ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup 2016
Ireland will have to overcome the challenge posed by the Under-19 teams of Nepal, Papua New Guinea, Uganda and the United States of America, but Ryan Eagleson, the former Irish allrounder and present coach of the Under-19 side, was confident his wards would give a good account of themselves.
With conditions in Malaysia being very different to the ones in Ireland, the side arrived six days early, and its focus in the lead-up to the tournament has been on preparation and adapting to the heat and humidity.
“Conditions back home were totally alien compared to Malaysia so we got here six days earlier to play a couple of warm-up matches and get the guys used to the heat and humidity here,” explained Eagleson. “We played two warm-up matches, you know just getting the boys acclimatised. It was a great success. The conditions were totally alien to a lot of them, having never played here before. It was a bit of an eye-opener in the first game but the second game was 100%, and it was just good to get the guys out onto the park.”
In Eagleson, the Ireland team have a coach who has first-hand experience of playing in Malaysia, having taken part in the ICC Trophy in the country back in 1997. “A few of the boys were asking me about it,” he said. “It’s just about going out and trying to find a way to keep yourself cool. Get ice baths, get lots and lots of fluids on board, and get the ice packs on to cool them down during drinks breaks. The heat was getting to them after 15-20 overs, and that’s when the rash shot comes or the bad ball comes. It’s just about staying hydrated. We are not leaving any stone unturned when it comes to getting the boys prepared. We are monitoring them everyday, we’re looking through their hydration levels, and if they aren’t hydrated we get fluids into them quickly. We are taking all the precautions to try to get the best out of them on the pitch.”
Ireland missed out on direct qualification for the World Cup despite winning five matches out of five in the Europe qualifiers, with only a loss to Scotland and net run-rate stymying the side. However, Eagleson was confident the side would bounce back strongly from that heartbreak.
“It was a terrible disappointment. The boys had played great cricket and won five out of five, and to lose the last game to Scotland was a bitter pill to swallow,” he acknowledged. “But full credit to Scotland, they played well and good luck to them in the World Cup. Our boys were very disappointed but they’re lucky enough in that they have a second chance here. It’s an experience for the guys to come here and it’s a one that they’re all relishing. Conditions are tough but they’re up for the challenge. We have some very good cricketers and we have very some tough cricketers so they are looking forward to it.”
The senior Ireland side has consistently done well at ICC World Cups, and Eagleson was hoping the Under-19s would follow that example. Among the squad, the ones that came in for special praise from Eagleson were captain Jack Tector, the McClintock twins – Gary and William – and the young bowling duo of Joshua Little and Varun Chopra.
“We have a very exciting squad here,” said Eagleson. “We’ve got a good mix of youth and experience. We have two 15-year-olds in the squad in Joshua Little, the left arm seamer, and young Varun Chopra, a legspinner. The McClintock twins – Gary and William – both 18, are two explosive batsmen. During one of the warm-up games, they put on 90 for the fifth wicket, hit the ball extremely hard and were a pleasure to watch too. Skipper Jack Tector had a very good time too. It’s a really exciting team, so hopefully the boys can do their business here.”