Moon man to call it a day
ROY TORRENS would travel to the moon for Irish cricket – in fact he has already done so.
The much-loved Derryman last week bade farewell to an Irish ground for the last time in his ten-year career as manager. His run-in to retirement will be spent in UAE, West Indies, Australia and New Zealand.
“I started out with a victory in Loughborough College, and I’m hoping we can end with one in Australia, that would crown it.
“(Former ICU secretary) John Wright got me into this job in 2004. I asked him what the commitment would be and he said ‘half a dozen games a year, the odd trip to Scotland or to Holland. No problem Roy, you can manage that’.”
Big Roy’s arrival coincided with Ireland starting to punch above its weight and the calendar exploded.
“In those 10 years we’ve had 280 games. But they’ve been wonderful years and I wouldn’t change it for anything.”
As of yesterday he had clocked up 236,000 air miles just to and from fixtures (the moon is 238,000 miles away). He’ll sail past quarter-of-a-million before he’s done.
And then there’s the many, many road miles he’s done all over Ireland and beyond.
“It’s a huge time commitment and I couldn’t have done it without my family, and to them I’m eternally grateful.
“The most enjoyable part was working with the young fellas. They speak a different language from me but it has kept me young being with them for those ten years.”
Niall O’Brien, for one, will miss that steady hand on tour.
“The best thing about Roy is his ability to listen to all the ups and the downs whilst on tour. “He has seen it all and done it all but it's more his ability to have a laugh and a good time that endears him to the lads.
“He is like a big kid and all he wants is to be involved in the team gags and the craic that goes on.
“We love big Roy in the set up and he is known all over the world.”
Torrens played 30 times for Ireland from 1966 to 1984, his career showing how much the fixture list has expanded.
Winters were spent with Derry City and Ballymena United, and picking up amateur soccer caps, including one captaining Martin O’Neill.
He gets very close to his charges these days.
“Having played myself the lads appreciate the fact that I know the pressures they are under playing for Ireland, and I understand because I’ve been there.
“I try to spend some of my time acting like an uncle to the boys, and I hope I’m there if they need a spot of advice if they’ve personal problems.”
The hardest part of the job is the travelling.
“Nowadays, going through airports, with a party of 20… the logistics, excess baggage, trying to get legroom seats for the big boys and trying to make sure they all make the flight.
“I haven’t lost anyone up to now but I’ve had guys mislay passports. I had one guy who put all his daily allowance money for the tour into a bin at the airport.”
With a man like Torrens, the laughs are never far away. His favourite tour moment came in Guyana at the 2007 World Cup.
“Kyle McCallan and Andrew White were the practical jokers in the party.
“We got the press officer, Barry Chambers, to tell them that Christopher Martin-Jenkins wanted to invite them to lunch – on the BBC – for an interview.
“Whitey and Kyle are not the freest-spending of men, so they turned up at the hotel with their wives in tow too.
“Barry was then told to ring to say that CMJ would be late but to go ahead and order lunch, and the BBC would pay.
“Of course the boys went through the menu and had a fine meal only for another call to come from Barry reminding them of the date, April 1st.”
The World Cup final is next 29 March, and should Torrens be coming home two days later through Melbourne airport with a large trophy to look after, you can be sure he’ll work it into some prank.
A NOTABLE feat just went under the radar in the flurry of activity towards the end of the season. YMCA’s Gaby Lewis won her first Irish cap – only 120 to go to catch her father, Alan – at the tender age of 13.
It makes her the youngest Irish international, and the first person born in the 21st century to represent their country in any major sport.
TALK is already turning to next season and ways of reviving the Bob Kerr Irish Senior Cup. Former Ireland spinner Albert van der Merwe has put a proposal to Cricket Ireland for a Heineken Cup-style format.
The eight top division sides in Leinster, North and North-West would divide into four groups of six, with two from each union in each. Teams would only travel once, for a double weekend, and the top two would qualify for quarter-finals when group winners would play at home.
It would mean more, better games for the best players and invigorate a format which has been unchanged since 1983.
THE Poynter brothers will remember 2014 with fondness. A first century for Ireland and his Durham debut (Stuart), and an Irish cup record, plus Leinster cup and T20 medals (Andrew).
The latter made his fourth century of the summer on Sunday as Lightning took the IP50 title.
It brought his run total this season to 1,608 in 39 games, at an average over 55.
With Stu making 1,501 runs at almost 32 in 58 matches, the pair have amassed an incredible 3,000 runs this summer.
And their cousin Andrew Vincent, a member of the Leinster Under 14 squad, also topped the 1,000 run mark this summer which saw him move quickly up the teams at Castle Avenue.