Munster cricket aims for continued growth
IT’S often as port mis understood. Complicated rules, bizarre terminology, a game for the elite; misconceptions about the game of cricket that have followed the sport since its categorisation as a ‘garrison game’ over 100 years ago, which saw the game wilt throughout the mid and latter parts of the 20th century.
However, cricket’s reputation is rapidly gaining in the eyes of the sporting public over the past decade-or- so, and for Munster Cricket, traditionally the weakest of the four Unions, perceptions have dramatically changed in both cricketing circles, and further afield, after another milestone season.
Last year the Union gained its first ever employee in the shape of a parttime administrator for the province, which also includes Galway in its enormous remit, and with development officer Jim Doran’s fine work continuing in schools across the South, things are rapidly looking up.
Munster took their place at the top table cricketing- wise at the beginning of this season for the first time in over a decade, taking part in a revamped interprovincial competition which has gained first-class status, and renewed impetus with Ireland’s promotion to test status earlier this year by the ICC.
Something which Munster intend to be fully part of. And as Corkonian Seanan Jones and Cork County player Aaron Cawley were in the green of Ireland down the Mardyke in an U 17 International Series against Scotland, Munster Cricket Chairman David Griffin sat down to explain the Union’s new strategic plan, launched last week, which will take them up to 2020.
“We’ve been working on the plan since last November, and it follows on from the previous three year plan which took us up to the end of 2017. We felt it was important to get it done in the context of the test status which will radically change cricket in Ireland, and to lay out where our priorities are.
“I think while we didn’t achieve everything we wanted in the previous document, we made good progress in nearly every area and achieved some of our goals. For example, the previous strategic plan’s main goal was to get the Munster Reds back playing interprovincial cricket, something which we achieved this season.”
Something which has already been taken seriously, not just by those within cricketing circles, but a national competition, featuring international players, played right on their doorstep, will always capture the imagination of the Cork sporting public. The Reds’ performance meanwhile has exceeded expectations, but just lacking that bit of experience to push one-or-two games over the line.
A packed Mardyke a fortnight ago saw the Leinster Lightning crowned champions of the T20 competition for the third successive season — a side packed with Irish internationals far above the other three Unions — but the Reds will regroup ahead of next season, with hopes of some commercial backing to push them along.
“There has been a lot of interest in the Reds this season, as evidenced by the crowd we got against Leinster, the next step is to use that to attract sponsors into the game. It has also helped establish our credibility among the other Unions, that from a standing start and with little time we were extremely competitive, which will hopefully make them more receptive to us playing in further forms of the game.
“Our biggest challenge is probably having the resources in place to
Our biggest challenge is having the resources in place to achieve our ambitious objectives
achieve our ambitious objectives, we’ve known for years that we haven’t sufficient development officer hours to do all we want in an area the size of Munster and Galway. There have been a couple of major achievements in terms of facilities, with new grounds in Waterford and Kerry, but further grant provision is needed.
“We need to put a lot more money put into the Mardyke to make sure it can continue with the level of representative cricket played (the ground was after its fifth day in six between the Reds and Ireland), and we also need more grass wickets developed so other grounds get that opportunity. I would put us in a very similar position to where Connacht Rugby was four or five years ago, at which stage the IRFU decided they needed Connacht and put the resources behind them, and you can see the results of that with their progression. I would hope over the course of this strategic document we would see the same momentum mirrored down here.”
The Connacht example is a particularly pertinent one, with Cawley helping the Irish U19s qualify for the World Cup, and is now set become the first Munsterman to represent his country at a Cricket World Cup this coming Winter.
Munster Reds player Jack Tector was called up to the Irish side for their ICC Intercontinental Cup clash with the Netherlands, and last year’s Reds’ team contains a number of future Irish stars hoping to make the grade. “It’s shows if the pathway is there for players to work their way up, the possibility is there for our players to step up over the next few years.
“Cork is undoubtedly one of the major sporting hubs of the country, looking at all of the varied sports we have here. One of Cricket Ireland’s objectives in their plan is to ‘Make Cricket Mainstream’ and certainly to be strong down here and in the other major cities of Waterford, Limerick, and Galway, is absolutely necessary if they want to achieve that.”
Munster Cricket have launched a strategic plan for the development of cricket in Munster over the period from 2017 to 2020. Pictured are Munster Cricket president Michael Hickey on left, and chairman David Griffin.
David Griffin and Kieran Aherne, Cork Cricket Club, at the Mardyke recently, remembering the centenary of the US Navy baseball game in Cork.