|Under 19 World Cup: New Zealand, January 2010|
James Shannon World Cup Blog - Part One
James Shannon ) Ireland Under 19)
ICC U19 World Cup, New Zealand.
Having triumphed in Canada during the U19 World Cup Qualifiers in September, finishing as group leaders, and the top associate member, the summer months quickly progressed to the New Year, with hopes of a successful month in Australasia.
Preparation compared to that of two years ago has been much more detailed and specific, something that our management set-up has been keen to emphasise during 5 weekend sessions, held in Bready, Queens and optional weekly slots in North County. Technical and physiological training has been repetitive yet enjoyable and hopefully the benefits of our hard work will blossom during the month ahead. For the eight of us who played in the last world cup in Malaysia, having that experience has given us a psychological edge and a mental toughness, knowing that we are capable of playing against the best in the world, as well as pushing us through the hard periods, which there will undoubtedly be.
This trip has been met with great apprehension. There is no doubt that this squad of players is one of the most talented Ireland has ever produced at underage level. Gone are the days when being there was satisfactory, we have the desire to progress and continue to super eights and compete against the big boys in world cricket. Having been drawn in a group with Australia, South Africa and the USA, we have respect for all three but in no way do we fear them, and if we play to the best of our ability I believe and so do the rest of the squad that we can turn them over and send a message to the other nations that we are a serious force over the three weeks of the tournament.
Sydney. Australia. Flight time- 24 hours.
Personally i didnít know what to expect from this journey. No matter how you prepare for it, how many DVDs, books, or distractions you bring there is only one way to describe it, difficult. Three changes at Heathrow, Dubai, Bangkok eventually brought us to Sydney international on Sunday 3rd, having left on New Yearís Day from Belfast at midday. The physical affects have been clear for many of the players, as jet lag and adjusting to heat have taken time to get used to. Waking up at 5am, with bags of energy just isnít usual for a student, so no doubt the majority struggled, however as we are now into our 2nd week things are starting to get back to normal.
All complaints and niggles aside, the journey is well worth it. Sydney and all the various tourist attractions it brings, as well as the 30 degree weather, beaches, and entertainment has been a fantastic experience, something that none of us will ever forget. Visiting the 2nd day of the New Years test at the SCG was an educating experience, and the atmosphere alone was something that would inspire anyone to play at the highest level.
Staying at the University of New South Wales, we had access to fantastic facilities, good wickets, and two warm-up games against their 1st grade and 3rd grade side, on Thursday and Friday respectively. The University plays within the Sydney grade league, so it was going to be a fine challenge for us after coming out of a cold winter back home, and this being our first outing since Canada in mid September.
Thursday, vs. UNSW 1st Grade.
Bowling first, Shane Getkate picked up an early wicket and generally we bowled tightly, although some short bowling was latched onto, as the Aussies showed their background having grown up on quick pitches and punished us. David Dawson an ex- Tasmania first class player, showed his ability with a quick 83 before falling to a shot that perhaps he did not have to play. This got us back into the game and a good final spell at the death from Jordan Coghlan restricted the Students to a competitive 235 on a wicket that if they bowled well would be tough.
Paul Stirling gave us an early platform against some quick and experienced bowlers will a ruthless 73, playing shots that took the opposition by surprise. Thompson and Nelson went cheaply, and in Nelsonís defence having just landed the day before, was literally caught napping at the crease. Partnerships between Paul & myself, as well as McDonnell & myself had the game almost in the bag before the University got back into the game with quick wickets, putting pressure on our lower order, who have been without much batting practice over the winter, however Adrian DíArcy with some fantastic hitting and audacious stroke play pulled us over the finish line, to give us a confidence boosting win, with some great positives to take from it.
Friday, vs. UNSW 3rd Grade.
Batting first against a weakened university side, we massed 350, with a century from stand-in skipper Stirling, and good contributions in the middle from Ackland, McDonnell, and Thompson, who all looked busy at the crease and ran well between the wickets, pushing it hard to the ring fielders and taking on the boundary riders.
In reply to our 350, their openers and top order started brightly punishing some quick but at times wayward bowling. However this quickly died down to almost a standstill as wickets fell and the lower order shut up shop. Eventually the last few wickets were taken to secure a well earned victory.
Overall the Australian leg to our tour brought a huge amount of positives for the players as well as the management. Fifties, hundreds, wickets and some energetic fielding in hot conditions were all things that a number of players could take away from the few days spent in Sydney. There was valuable advice given to our quicks by former Australian fast bowler Geoff Lawson, and other specific knowledge and tips to the rest of the players. It was a real success in terms of gaining confidence for the harder games to come and hopefully we can continue our good form and winning momentum into the games ahead of us in Christchurch where we play Afghanistan and West Indies in Warm-ups and then in Queenstown for our group starting on Friday against the South Africans.