North West cricket lovers will be hoping their men can help Ireland in their World Cup campaign, which gets under way against the West Indies, on Sunday night.
Skippered by William Porterfield, the Killyclooney man will be joined in the squad Bby fellow North West men Craig Young, Andy McBrine and Stuart Thompson, as Ireland begin their third consecutive ICC World Cup adventure.
For Young, McBrine and Thompson in particular it really is a dream come true as they get ready to play in their first World Cup for their country.
“It hasn’t actually sunk in yet, but hopefully it sinks in well before the first bowl in the first game against the West Indies,” said Young.
“It’s a nice game to start off with. I have been watching their games and I have been praying that if I’m playing that I just want to make sure that I’m bowling first.
“Preferably I want to bowl first no matter what and I would love to be getting that ball straight away in the morning with a bit of due on the wicket, that would be ideal for me.”
As for McBrine he’s following in his father Junior’s footsteps playing for Ireland, but the first to play at a World Cup and he can’t wait.
“It’s a big deal, because at the end of the day there are 15 boys representing their country, at a World Cup,” the Donemana man said.
“There aren’t too many people that have had the opportunity to do that, so we are all going to Australia and New Zealand hoping to do our country proud.
“We have India, Pakistan, South Africa, West Indies, United Arab Emirates and Zimbabwe all in our group and that’s a tough group, but hopefully we can get three maybe four wins and if we do that, hopefully that will see us through to the super eight stage.”
Skipper Porterfield feels that the ‘surprise factor’ won’t work this time.
“I think that’s the world sport and the coverage you get and everything like that, so yeah teams will know a lot more about us,” he said.
“Yes we’ve done reasonably well in previous World Cups, but it’s going to be another challenge coming here.
“I think it’s going to be completely different.
“And obviously the people say India’s a tough place to come, but I think Australia’s a step up again, so we’re looking forward to it.”
All-rounder Thompson is just as excited and is delighted to be part of Phil Simmons’ squad.
“It’s a fantastic opportunity for myself and Irish cricket to be playing on the biggest stage of all at a World Cup In Australia and New Zealand,” the Eglinton man admitted.
“Our preparation has gone really well and we’re all over the jet lag after a week long camp at Randwick Petersham.
“We’ve trained hard this past two days in the nets where we’ve had the chance to work with one of the legends of the game in Brett Lee.
“It was a great opportunity to talk with him and pick his brain about not only bowling but playing and performing under pressure in a World Cup situation.
“We played Scotland yesterday and face Bangladesh today in the warm up games which is a chance to execute what we have been working on in training in a match scenario before the big opener against the West Indies which is a crucial game for our ambitions to qualify from the group stages.
“Our hotel is located near the Sydney Opera House and the Harbour Bridge.
“We had a photo shoot there on Monday and a group of us had the chance to walk on top of the Bridge - it was spectacular.
“There’s a great camaraderie in the squad and it’s great to have such a strong North West representation here too.
“I can’t wait for what I hope will be a long and successful World Cup campaign.”