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Brian Walsh interview – BBC Sportsound 27th April 2013 Transcript

David Morton
NCU PRO

Presenter: I've been joined by a man who's arrived hot foot from Shaw's Bridge where he was watching the Instonians Lisburn game, it's the Northern Cricket Union Chairman, Brian Walsh. Brian, good evening to you.

Brian: Good evening Michael.

Presenter: First, about the game, was it an impressive knock by Andrew White, there's life in the old dog yet.

Brian: Yes, I think there's some innings still in him, lost a few early wickets and Andrew consolidated and then expanded and ended up with a fairly respectable 220 odd.

Presenter: There's a big summer, there's always a big summer coming for Irish cricket and for Northern Union cricket, there's been a bit of a re-branding done to the Inter-pro series we've now got the Northern Knights, tell me about that.

Brian: Well the background of it is Michael, the ICC have invested in two or three of the top associate countries and they've invested $1.5million over three years in Irish cricket to try and develop it and take it on to its next level. We're losing our best players to English county cricket and this is an effort to create a first class, professional structure in Ireland, which would be an alternative to the boys going to play county cricket in England.

Presenter: So is there a new structure to the tournament, is there more money, what is attracting, what's going to keep the guys here?

Brian: Well the tournament is being sponsored by RSA who are the main sponsors of Irish cricket and we're thankful for that. We've now got three inter-provincial teams all with their own names, we are the Northern Knights and its really to try and send a message to our younger players that they can stay here play a better standard of cricket and also develop into international cricketers by staying in Ireland. One of the starts to it was for the three areas to go into Premier Leagues with only eight teams in them so we are getting narrower with our better players and the best ones from the three Premier Leagues will now play in the inter-provincial series.

Presenter: And coaches have been appointed with huge experience, Trent Johnston, Bobby Rao and Eugene Moleon.

Brian: Absolutely, all with experience of international and first class cricket. We have three coaches appointed, each province has a team administrator, each team has got a manager and assistant coaches and selectors. Kyle McCallan is Chair of the selectors of our Northern Knights team and Andrew White has been appointed captain of the team. So they have their second practice tomorrow after which we will be naming the 12 to take on the Leinster team on Monday week.

Presenter: You know what the traditionalists always say and its an argument that is wheeled out every year, if you get rid of the pros you encourage the local fellows to play and so much of the pre season build up is which pro has signed for which club and in league terms pros do very well.

Brian: Yes, its a double edged sword, the argument is pros raise the standard because the guys get a chance to play against better players every week and the better players who I would talk to say that, that is their main challenge, to go out and do better than the pro and the guys who make it to the top actually do that and our international players now, they're first class players and they see themselves on a par with these players and they compete and they do well.

Presenter: I'm sure though young players will look at the success of Irish players in county cricket and will look at the likes of our young wicket keeping friend... Gary Wilson. How can I forget Gary's name. Paul Stirling doing well and they'll think I want a slice of that.

Brian: Yeah, well I mean that's the competition we're up against and the county cricket is the best cricket at this time of the year in the world and we have to compete to try and hold onto our players so if we can get a structure were we are playing first class cricket and in the inter-provincials, we are playing three day cricket, we're playing 50 over cricket and 20 over cricket and this is the first year of it. We can see this develop in that we would maybe be playing other countries and their regions and the game would develop even more. So that's our challenge to try and keep our best young players here. We've 22 players under contract with Ireland, some part-time, some full-time, and there is a pathway now. Young guys can see that if they do stay and they do make it to the senior team, they could play in World Cups, which you don't do if you play county cricket and they have a chance of becoming international stars.

Presenter: Gary Wilson, sorry, just clicking on the computer here, I can tell you that Gary Wilson got 60 today for Surrey in their second innings. He's been in the runs early on. Are you a bit like me, are you superstitious, first day of the season, I'm so used, back in the day when I used to be allowed to play cricket, I mean the end of April, it was usually tipping down with rain, this is hugely encouraging.

Brian: Traditionally the first day of the season is a write off, and the weather leading up to today has been poor so its a tremendous bonus actually that we've got all the matches in the Premier League and some in the first division playing and sun shine to see us through the day, so it's a great start to the season.

Presenter: And finally, have you seen with all the great success at the elite level that Ireland have produced, is that producing the young boys and girls who want to play cricket locally?

Brian: Absolutely. Cricket Ireland's plan is to try and develop the game to become the fourth sport in Ireland and to try to get 50,000 participants. We are well over halfway to that target already. We have a development officer in the NCU, Nigel Jones, we've also got three cricket development officers working in the community in the NCU area and it's very strong at the moment among the youth.

Presenter: Well I cross my fingers that Dungannon CC struggle through to the end of the season, NCU Chairman, Brian Walsh, thank you very much indeed.

Brian Walsh interview - BBC Sportsound 27th April 2013 (mp3 file)