Wilson ready for final
Gary Wilson, Ireland's wicketkeeper-batsman, is hoping to make up for his disappointment at missing the World Cup by helping his side to success in next week's Intercontinental Cup final.
Wilson, a former MCC player who is now at Surrey, was overlooked for the recent tournament in favour of Niall O'Brien. He told Cricinfo: "When Adrien Birrell told me I was reserve I wasn't happy, but I've always had a lot of respect for him."
This didn't stop him from watching Ireland's success and cheering them on from across the Atlantic, where he was involved in Surrey's pre-season build-up. "Whenever it got close I felt like I was playing, particularly with some of my best friends in the team." He's referring to William Porterfield and Kenny O'Brien, his former Under-19 teammates, and he's known Porterfield since they played together at under-13 level.
But while he wished his team-mates well, that didn't stop him wishing for a phone call that never came. "I was hoping to get the call-up, not wishing an injury on anyone, of course." But now that Northamptonshire have refused to release O'Brien, Wilson has an uncontested chance to shine at Grace Road in the four-day final against Canada which starts on Tuesday, May 22. Ireland, the defending champions, are up for it.
"Even though we've lost recently, the boys have the same energy as in the World Cup. That's not changed. We've been disappointed with our Friends Provident showings [they have lost five out of five], but we've proved we're the best Associate in the world, especially in the four-day game."
He admits he doesn't know much about Canada - apart from facing Umar Bhatti, who he rates, at Under-19 World Cup level - but when Ireland link up on Sunday evening in Leicester, the side will be poring over their opposition with the Cricstat video analysis tool.
And if they're looking for Canada's technical deficiencies, and indeed to enhance their own technical game then they're well set, he believes, with Phil Simmons as their new coach following Birrell's departure. "He's a very good technical coach. He seems to be enjoying it, and he's fitting in well."
He's enjoying his time with Surrey, too. "It's brilliant, a great opportunity for me." It's a long way from his days playing club cricket at Hollywood (near Belfast) where his dad played. "Things have changed. Cricket's really taking off in Ireland and there's now a bit more professionalism in the national side." Another big test awaits them next week.
Jenny Thompson is assistant editor of Cricinfo