Philip McCormick Feature
David Holmes (Total Cricket-News Letter)
Ireland will take on the World's Number 1 ranked side, Australia, at the Stormont grounds in Belfast. Saturday the 23rd of June sees the Big Hitters come to Belfast for the RSA Challenge. A great day out will be in store as you can watch Irish World Cup Record Breakers Paul Stirling & Kevin O'Brien take on Australia's Big Hitters David Warner & Shane Watson.
Ireland fresh from qualifying for a fantastic 5th ICC World Event having won the ICC World Twenty20 Qualifiers and they will be looking to add Australia to their list of big name scalps.”
The above is taken directly from this week’s press release from Cricket Ireland and there is no doubt with the game now just days away the excitement is growing.
However it takes a lot of effort for these games to happen as some appreciate better than most. Philip McCormick is probably better known to the readers of these columns as the captain of Holywood Cricket Club but for the next two weeks that is probably not the number one cricketing issue on his mind.
Philip’s day job is as the groundsman at Stormont. As the stands started to go up around the ground this week I spoke to him about the game ahead and the pressures that it brings with it:
“The stands going up are not an issue this will all be done by this weekend, it may cause a little disruption to the players at the weekend, but not for the work we do on the ground. The ground has all been mapped out and we are able to work around this and cut up to where exactly the stands are going to be.
"This will be the first time that we have had Sky Sports here covering the game and I am more conscious of the fact that the ground is going to have global exposure, with perhaps hundreds of millions watching. It is also the world number one side the Australians and I have a few mates down in Australia who will no doubt be watching in. If all goes well nobody will know who I am; but if we get it wrong you are very much the man in the spotlight, so yes you might say that I am getting a few more grey hairs by the day!”
Obviously one of the things that Philip has no control over is the weather, but it plays such a vital role in whether he is able to prepare a good pitch or not: “Yeah I am getting a bit fed up with the rain already, though I have been able to get out there and give the wicket a good roll and it is starting to firm up nicely. I am happy with where things are at the minute there is a nice bit of grass covering in the middle. What I really need is it to be decent on the Thursday, Friday and Saturday and I am confident we will have a good pitch. Some people seem to think that you just turn up and away you go, I wish it was that simple.”
Some may remember that when England last played here the compliments weren’t exactly flowing. England skipper Paul Collingwood certainly did not seem to grasp the amount of preparation that goes on and that weeks of work can be sabotaged by the overhead conditions.
Another man with his work cut out is Andrew Leonard, Cricket Ireland’s Marketing & Membership Manager, based just on the northern outskirts of Dublin, but with more than a few trips north to Stormont already under his belt.
The latest of these was on Monday for the press conference to announce the Ireland squad for the RSA Challenge and I spoke to him about his role and the upcoming game: “I’m excited and there is a lot of work going on at the moment but as a cricketer myself this is just the dream job. It’s fantastic to have the Australians in Belfast and we are looking forward to a full house. The ground capacity is for 5000 and at the moment we have already sold around 4000, so I would appeal to the cricketing public in Northern Ireland to come out and support the team. It would be great to have it sold out before Saturday week. If people are waiting to see what the weather may be on the day, I can understand that but I will reassure them that if less than 10 overs are bowled, there will be a full refund.”
Play commences at 10.45am, tickets are available from www.ticketmaster.co.uk and typing in ‘Cricket Ireland’ or by calling NI: 0844 847 2455. There are also further details on Cricket Ireland's website at www.cricketireland.ie