The third England – India test match at Edgbaston saw the presentation of the ECB Sky Sports Coach Awards 2011. The awards are a way of saying thank you to people who have made a significant contribution to the support and development of coaches and coaching in cricket.
Attending was Ireland’s Andy McCrea who won the European Outstanding Coaching Award. Andy has been involved in many aspects of coaching since he first became qualified in 1994 and as a volunteer, has been at the forefront of many projects, becoming a key member in the development of cricket in Ireland, particularly club, player and coach development.
On a club level – Andy has assisted in the transformation of his club, Templepatrick Cricket Club, based in Ballyclare, to one that is widely recognised as one of the best structured, organised and driven in Ireland. His vision and understanding of quality, and his role as the club’s voluntary Cricket Development Officer has ensured that he has remained at the centre of all forward planning. These are massively wide-ranging as Templepatrick CC has one of the largest junior sections in the area. Andy has overseen huge growth in junior participation through his work as a tireless coach and leader of the club’s coaching team. Now the club caters for boys and girls as young as 5 up to 17, and recently formed a girls section.
He has also played a major role in ensuring that the club’s facilities are state-of-the-art by successful applications for funding of £160,000 that has given the club practice facilities which are arguably the best in Ireland, a new square, outfield and drainage. In an administrative sense, Andy has been integral on Templepatrick CC’s journey on the club’s Cricket Ireland Club Accreditation Scheme, ensuring that structures are in place for long term development.
Andy is an active Level 3 coach and one of the most respected in Northern Ireland, working with some of Irish cricket’s brightest young players in the Northern Academy. Regularly he is mentioned by the players as the most influential coach they have come across in their time in the Academy. His knowledge of the game, and that of holistic player development, as well his love for coaching ensures that he is an operator of the highest class.
Continuing the coaching thread, Andy is also master-in-charge of cricket at his school, Campbell College in Belfast, one of the most prominent cricketing schools in Northern Ireland. Andy continues to drive standards up with his detailed work with the players in the school aged 7 to 18. Through schools cricket, Andy is an active member of the Ulster Schools Cricket Committee. This body is tasked with the running of all schools competitions across Northern Ireland and developing the game through the schools’ system.
Andy is also Cricket Ireland’s Lead Coach Education Tutor and Assessor for the last five years, and has a drive to produce coaches of the highest calibre that will continue to raise standards in local clubs with the players of the future. He is extremely well respected in this role, and is also qualified as a Field-Based Trainer and Interval Verifier for Cricket Ireland’s Coach Education system. It is undoubted that his deep well of experience as a tutor, his love of the game and his professional background stand him apart from many others in Ireland as the main driver of coach tutoring and assessing.
There can be no doubt that Andy’s contribution and service to cricket coaching and the game in general is absolutely outstanding and of real significance to cricket in Ireland. He continues to work at many levels; schools, club and player development, high performance coaching and coach education. He has created systems that have only improved since his inclusion and is creating a legacy that will continue for many years to come. So much of cricket in Ireland, and in the North in particular, has been touched by Andy’s skill that he is an obvious candidate for this award.
On receiving his award, Andy commented “I am absolutely delighted with this honour. Thank you very much to the ECB CA, Sky Sports and ICC Europe for considering me and to Cricket Ireland for nominating me. The presentation day was superb and great to meet other coaches, some of which have contributed forty plus years to this great game and share their experiences. Coaches always need to be looking to enhance their skills and knowledge and being a member of the ECB CA has certainly provided me with resources, tools and learning experiences that I have hopefully been able to utilise to the benefit of players and hopefully aided other coaches in their development. The new Howzat! package is an ideal example of how the ECB CA are at the forefront of coaching resources and offering a quality service to their members. When I started on my coaching journey 17 years ago, enjoyment and helping players improve were the most important things to me. Those are still key indicators for me and hopefully they will continue to be so, as I look forward to more years of developing, hopefully my own skills and assisting others if I can.”