The Ger Siggins Column
Inside Edge: 6 September
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THE selection of Merrion’s 2nd XI leg-spinner for Ireland A ranks as one of the strangest selections in recent history. Alex O’Brien didn’t make the 14-man squad for his club’s Bob Kerr cup final on Saturday, even with two regulars on holidays.
But Phil Simmons has often been rewarded for following a hunch – Paul Stirling for one – and is genuinely confident that the teenager can prove him right.
"I've been watching him closely. I first noticed him playing in Leinster schoolboys’ cricket and invited him along to bowl to the senior players in the nets. Sometimes as a coach you have a hunch about players, and I have a feeling that young Alex could have what it takes to play at a higher level, bringing something different to the team.”
Since the emergence of Shane Warne, the ancient art of leg-breaks and googlies has been revived and there is no doubting its potency. Former Irish leggie Conor Hoey is still one of the most dangerous bowlers in club cricket.
O’Brien was capped at Under 13 level but thereafter fell out of the Irish set-up. So far in 2012 he has played once for Merrion’s 1st XI, and bowled just one over.
“I had my Leaving Cert at the start of the summer,” he told the Star. “And then I went on holidays. I’ve only been playing for about a month.”
O’Brien got a text from Phil Simmons asking if he was available and the announcement made for a memorable 19th birthday at the weekend.
“It’ll be a great experience playing against Sussex”, he says.
Alex starts training to be a primary school teacher this month, but a career in cricket is also a burning ambition. He’s on his way.
Four of the five shortlisted for next month’s ICC Associate Player of the Year are Irish. The top gong for non-test players will be handed out at a glittering bash in Sri Lanka next week.
And Ed Joyce, George Dockrell, Kevin O’Brien and Paul Stirling are all lined up to become the second Irish winner after William Porterfield in 2009. Afghanistan’s Dawlat Zadran is the only non-Irish nominee.
Tweet of the week 1: Nicolaas Pretorius (@klausymyboy ) “This might be it, although I hope not. If I'm not batting I might as well move on. Wanna spend some time in the middle.”
The Hills wicketkeeper threatens to leave on Twitter after the Bob Kerr cup win.
THERE has rarely been such unanimous excitement at an innings as for Jack Carson’s brilliant unbeaten 121 in the All Ireland Under 11 Cup final. The Waringstown player led his side to a 54-run win against Clontarf.
Son of former Ireland Under 19 and interpro keeper Jim, he has now scored over 500 runs this season – and has yet to be dismissed. One former Ireland opening batsman told Jack it was a privilege to watch him bat such was the brilliance of his stroke-making.
Tweet of the week 2: Ali Martin (@Cricket_Ali): “Just spoken to Murali for a World Twenty20 preview. Lovely guy. Picked his top players to watch. Ireland? "The fat guy".
Who could he mean?
Cricketers who are sick of the rain can try their hand at indoor cricket this winter. A new mixed Dublin league is starting shortly, organised by Matt Lunson of Phoenix. Each innings lasts 16 overs, with batsmen batting in pairs four overs at a time.
“I would expect anyone from Division 1 to Division 10 to compete as it's a pretty level playing field,” says Matt.
“It most suits fast, agile cricketers with a good eye.”
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