Hanley Energy InterPro Series 2017 Launched
Players from Leinster Lightning, NW Warriors and the Northern Knights met today at the official launch of the 2017 Hanley Energy Inter-Provincial series which gets under way on Monday when defending champions Leinster Lightning take on North West Warriors at The Hills (10.45am).
Lightning start the strongest of favourites to make it a treble of clean sweeps, given the strength and depth of their squad - which includes no fewer than 11 senior internationals for the opening clash.
Ed Joyce is poised to make his Lightning debut in the fixture after he made the decision to limit his county career with Sussex in order to concentrate on Irish inter-provincial cricket - a major factor being the enhanced first-class and List-A status that the games will have this season.
Senior Irish international George Dockrell admitted that the elevation of the games by the ICC was a development welcomed by all the participants.
“It’s absolutely fantastic for all the players that the competition will have first-class and List-A status,” said Dockrell. “It gives it that extra step, that certificate of approval. It’s a great step forward for Irish cricket to get that tick from ICC that our games are worthy of first-class status and hopefully keeps us on the right track to get Test cricket.”
Dockrell accepts that Lightning are favourites to retain their titles but realizes that the other Unions will be challenging hard.
“We have fantastic depth with talented cricketers not just in the team but in the entire squad. There are some tremendous young cricketers in the Leinster set-up who are all challenging hard for places and that keeps the pressure on the senior players.
“I think it’s great that we have an inter-provincial side that has that level of class throughout it. It’s good that we also have these younger players who have played in international competitions like U19 World Cups knocking on the door, and along with the likes of Ed Joyce, Kevin O’Brien, Peter Chase, Andy Balbirnie and myself who have played first-class cricket. It’s a good blend which can only help the standard of cricket in the region and beyond in Irish cricket as a whole,” added Dockrell.
“We’ll certainly be targeting another treble but it’ll be one step at a time. We were pushed last year by both the Warriors and Knights in some close games but came out the right side. I think it’s important we don’t become complacent and keep our foot on the gas and try to be as clinical as possible. We know if we play 100% to our potential then we can win those three trophies, but it certainly won’t be easy.”
The first game of the campaign is at The Hills, a venue which makes Lightning feel right at home.
“It’s always a great pitch there, a super setting for cricket and there should be a decent crowd. Every time we’ve played the Warriors there has been a good game and I’d expect the same again on Monday. We have a fully fit squad to choose from and everyone is raring to go. We just can’t wait for the season to get under way, to get out there and hopefully get the first win.”
In another new initiative, Munster Reds will participate for the first time in the event, playing in the T20 Trophy, a decision welcomed by Dockrell.
“I think it’s great for Irish cricket. We know the game is growing in Ireland, with more and more teams all around the country, and it’s very welcome to have a team from Munster, who have produced some very good cricketers in recent years. It’s great that these guys have a chance to play against the best cricketers in the country, and I know everyone is looking to playing against them,” concluded the Leinster left-armer.
Cricket Ireland Performance Director Richard Holdsworth echoed Dockrell’s sentiments, and was confident the growth and elevation of the tournament would be an unqualified success.
“2017 will be a historic year for the Inter-Provincial competitions,” said Holdsworth. “First time participants, Munster Reds, are now playing in the Hanley Energy IP T20 Trophy, which had List A status granted late last year by the ICC.
“It will give a much greater focus to the T20, with two matches now taking place simultaneously - mainly on Friday evenings - across the four Provinces. These developments will hopefully help to improve Ireland in this format ahead of the next year ICC World T20 Qualifier. Cricket in Munster will receive a great boost which will aid the development and promotion of the game in the Province.
“The IP50 Cup will continue with three teams and now has List A status also, whilst for the first time in the of history Irish Cricket, the 3-day Championship will have First Class status, which we anticipate both the players and the public will now hold in higher regard.”
Clive Gilmore, CEO of Hanley Energy was delighted to be sponsoring the series for the third year saying: “Hanley Energy are proud to sponsor for the third year running the Inter-Provincial Series 2017. Having achieved first-class status by ICC makes this one of the most historic events on the Irish cricket calendar.
“With a strong sense of optimism, I wish all participating teams every good wish for what is guaranteed to be an exciting Inter-Provincial season.”
For details of the 2017 Hanley Energy Inter-Provincial Series, please visit www.cricketireland.ie/fixtures
Leinster Lightning v NW Warriors, Monday May 1 at The Hills (10:45am)
LEINSTER LIGHTNING (from):
John Anderson (Captain – Merrion), Andrew Balbirnie (Pembroke), Peter Chase (Malahide), George Dockrell (Leinster / Dublin University), Jamie Grassi (North County), Ed Joyce (Merrion), Tyrone Kane (Merrion), Josh Little (Pembroke), Kevin O’Brien (Railway Union), Eddie Richardson (North County), Simi Singh (YMCA), Max Sorensen (The Hills), Sean Terry (The Hills).
NORTH WEST WARRIORS (from):
Andy McBrine (Capt) (Donemana), Andy Britton (Brigade), Ricky-Lee Dougherty (Donemana), Aaron Gillespie (Strabane), Steve Lazars (Coleraine), Gary McClintock (Donemana), Niall O’Brien, David Rankin (Bready), Irosh Samarasooriya (Bready), Johnny Thompson (Brigade), Stuart Thompson (Eglinton), Craig Young (Bready).