|Under 19 World Cup Qualifier: Ireland, July-August 2011|
Bray confident of strong showing at U19 WCQ
Irelandís growing prowess as a cricketing nation continues to gain further momentum. With new clubs forming and old clubs reforming around the country participation numbers seem set to rise in keeping with Cricket Irelandís ambitious projections.
This month Ireland plays host to the Under 19 World Cup qualifiers for associate nations hoping for a place at the 2012 event, set to be staged in Australia after Canada withdrew as the planned host nation.
Rob Quin caught up with Irelandís Under 19 Coach Jeremy Bray as the former Irish International prepares his team in the hope of leading them back to the land down under.
Who will complete the management and coaching team?
Brian Walsh will continue in his role of team manager, and Tim Simmonite is the Assistant Coach. But I can also call on experienced players and coaches for help if I feel a specific expertise is required.
Are you enjoying the position?
Absolutely, itís a great challenge. We had our obstacles initially, for example with some players having to concentrate on exams and getting them together but everything seems to be coming together at the right time.
The squad has been named and George Dockrell has been handed the captaincy?
Yea, there was some thought about this, we want George performing at the level we know he can, but itís unbelievable how much experience this young man has, and how unfazed and calm he is, while still learning his craft. We acknowledged George is an important member of the senior squad and we spoke with Mark Garaway and Phil Simmons but George will be available when we need him, this experience made him the outstanding candidate.
Weíll be there to help him. We have to remember these are seventeen and eighteen year olds, most going into their first international competition.
If the strength of the last squad was in the batting line up is it fair to say this squad looks to have a strong bowling unit?
Well obviously George has made the headlines, Shane Getkate and Graeme McCarter were in New Zealand all three primarily as bowlers but we have been working hard with the batsmen on their all around games and we have been closely monitoring them and their progress, and I have been doing some one on one work with them.
Cricket Ireland has lost the considerable talents of Jordan Coghlan to Leinster Rugby how has this affected plans?
Well Jordan was in New Zealand and showed huge potential I remember some senior Australian coaches commenting on his raw abilities but we always knew that his athletic talents stretched beyond the cricket field. All we can do is wish him well with Leinster. But itís fair to say we will miss him if we canít get Shane back to full fitness.
Speaking of which how is Shane Getkateís progress?
We are in regular touch with Shane, we kept his place in the squad in the hopes that he will be fully fit, with his experience and abilities to contribute with bat and ball we hope heíll be fully fit and available to play in the tournament.
Which sides do you believe will be provide the strongest opposition?
Well each side in this tournament deserves to be here, so there will be some quality cricketers on display, there will be no easy games Nepal has a strong cricket culture, PNG is on the rise, Scotland will be used to the conditions and have plenty of support and we all know about the rise of Afghanistan cricket. The US beat us in the last qualifying tournament and Canada ran us close but every side in this competition will present challenges everyone in Irish cricket knows not to under-estimate the underdog.
You were fortunate to play for some great coaches what strength and from which coach will you utilize?
Well picking one is impossible, I think Iíve formed a philosophy from a number of coaches, some of whom I played under some of those Iíve played with and some from those Iíve played against. But Adi Birrell and his man management was exceptional he knew how to get the best out you, I would have died on the pitch for him, while Toot Bryon my former Australian Under 19 coach, whom I spent a few days in England with, learning under his tutelage about the art of batting.
Toot is a genius what he does not know about batting is not worth knowing. He opened my eyes and enhanced my knowledge in regards to the coaching of batsmen 100 fold.
After qualifying comfortably in Canada 09 Ireland struggled against better opposition in New Zealand who do you intend to prevent a repeat?
Well qualification should not be taken for granted firstly, second we did finish higher than any Irish side previously, and I do not want to make excuses but playing Australia and South Africa is never going to be easy, against Bangladesh George had been called into the full squad and we missed his overs, the West Indies beat us by 4 runs in a warm up, a game in which we really beat ourselves and they finished third.
My aim is to work with batsmen improve their technical abilities to enable them compete with quality bowling, and with the bowlers to achieve a consistent level of high performance.
With the countdown to the games underway is the excitement starting to build?
Yeah Iím really looking forward to the first game against the USA in Clontarf on July 28th. No one appreciates more than I the value of Irish support and I hope the fans will turn up in their numbers to support the team and the players. I have no doubt many of these players will become household names in a few years although maybe some of them are already.
The first week we play in some great venues first in Dublin, after Clontarf we go to North County, The Hills and Leinster.. Then we travel to Coleraine, Limavady and Eglington so it will be great to see as much support as possible.