Isobel Joyce Discusses Irish Cricket Ahead of a Full Series Against South Africa

July 30th 2016 | International

Isobel Joyce Discusses Irish Cricket Ahead of a Full Series Against South Africa

Isobel Joyce ©INPHO/Barry Chambers

Ireland take on South Africa in a six match series next week - two T20 internationals followed by four ODI’s.

For Isobel Joyce it will mark the next phase of an international career that began back in 1999 - two years before current team-mate Gaby Lewis was born!

In a glittering career for “The Girls in Green”, Joyce is one of three Irish women to make more than 100 appearances - her twin sister Cecelia and Clare Shillington are the others. She is Ireland’s leading wicket taker with 119 wickets, and with 2009 runs lies third in the all-time aggregate list.

After skippering the side on 62 occasions, she hands over the mantle of captaincy to Laura Delany. Just how difficult will the transition be?

“I’ve already experienced it in the Toyota Super 3 Series and I found that it was more difficult than I thought it was going to be at the start,” said the Merrion all-rounder.

“It’s having a different mind-set not having to worry about what to do next, bowling changes, fielding positions, what other players are going through.

“Kim Garth who is the new vice-captain was in charge at the Toyota Super 3s so that helped me relax a bit and let me concentrate on my own game. There were a lot of younger players involved in the series and I really enjoyed encouraging them and the whole series has been a great experience and one that I thoroughly enjoyed without the pressures that captaincy brings.

Joyce - who turned 33 earlier this week has been involved with the senior team now for 17 years - to what did she attribute her longevity?

“I’ve been lucky with injuries and form. Irish cricket are where most of my long standing friends are. Obviously my twin sister Cecelia is still very much involved, as is Clare Shillington and Ciara Metcalfe, who has been superb since coming back into the side.

“There’s new younger talent coming through all the time as well so that’s keeps the whole thing fresh and us older players on our toes. I still really enjoy my cricket and care about it so that’s been major factors as well.”

Under Head Coach Aaron Hamilton, there have been a number of new faces introduced. How did she feel this squad compared to others in the past?

“The level of professionalism within the current squad is unbelievable - the training, gym sessions, fitness. There’s an acceptance within the ranks that this is what’s required and everyone just gets on and does it. New players who come into the squad now realise just what’s involved in being an international cricketer and everyone has bought into that mind-set.

Joyce herself is feeling rejuvenated both on and off the field, and feels that she’s never been in better shape.

“I feel fitter now than at any time in the past. There’s accountability now and ownership of your fitness. There are no excuses as we have the support structures now that mightn’t have been the case in the past. We have the gym at DCU and Adam Sullivan is our strength and conditioning coach under the guidance of Brendan Connor and Kieran O’Reilly so there’s no escaping it - you’ve got to get on with it or you’ll be in trouble!

Joyce’s longevity in an Irish shirt is testament to her consistency with both and ball over the past 17 years - a fact recognised by her appearance at number 7 in the latest ICC T20 all-rounder rankings. However, she was more concerned with the team doing well, rather than individual achievements.

“I haven’t been paying much attention to the rankings but it’s always nice to be included in them. Indeed, I have been higher but didn’t take as many wickets as I’d liked at the recent World Cup so that’s something I’ll have to work on. If I can get higher it means that I and, hopefully, Ireland are doing well so that’s something that takes care of itself.”

The current Ireland squad is still all Leinster based. There is a lot of work going on in the north to broaden the player base and hopefully get a greater depth. How close did she feel the Northern players are getting to inclusion?

”Cara Murray has done well in the Super 3s. She’s a very impressive leg-spinner who is getting better and better all the time, so she’s one to keep a watch out for. She’s an excellent fielder and can bat too. Natasha Morton is a very talented cricketer too.”

“She’s travelling down to train in Dublin thanks to the support of her parents so that’s important. While there’s training going on the north, with all the senior internationals down here, she can learn from us all and take that knowledge back north with her and pass it on. That’s kind of how it works.”

Joyce combines her playing career with work as a hockey and cricket coach as well as being a fitness instructor. She has also worked previously in journalism as a sub-editor. How difficult is it being part-timers/amateurs coming up against full-time sides like South Africa?

“Sometimes there just aren’t enough hours in the day! It is obviously tough coming up against full-time opposition but that brings challenges for them too. They have pressure that comes from it being their careers and if they don’t produce performances they can lose their contracts. We have jobs and other outlets to fall back on.”

The Irish have Aaron Hamilton and Alex Cusack in their coaching ranks. How did Joyce working with the pair?

“Aaron is really the first full-time coach who has responsibility for all the development pathways. He knows the players at all levels which is essential. He is aware of who is capable of making the step up to the next level. He’s very strategic in his planning and is a very reassuring coach.

“Alex has been there and down it which gets him the respect of all. He has a very quiet, methodical approach and is very confident which rubs off on the players.

As to the challenge of South Africa, could Ireland turn them over next week?

“They’re missing a few key players who are involved in the Kia T20 tournament in England but still have a very strong squad. There will be a few new faces in there but with video analysis there’s very few surprises for international teams now. Hopefully we can make home advantage count and put it some strong performances over the next two weeks.”

The series kicks off on Monday with the first T20I at YMCA starting at 4pm. Entry to all the games in the series is free.

Laura Delany (Captain), (Dragons), Cath Dalton (Typhoons), Kim Garth (Scorchers), Jennifer Gray (Dragons), Isobel Joyce (Scorchers), Shauna Kavanagh (Dragons), Amy Kenealy (Typhoons), Gaby Lewis (Dragons), Louise McCarthy (Dragons), Ciara Metcalfe (Dragons), Lucy O’Reilly (Scorchers), Leah Paul (Typhoons), Clare Shillington (Typhoons), Mary Waldron (Dragons)

Laura Delany (Captain) (Dragons), Cath Dalton (Typhoons), Kim Garth (Scorchers), Cecelia Joyce, (Dragons), Isobel Joyce (Scorchers), Meg Kendal (Scorchers), Amy Kenealy (Typhoons), Gaby Lewis, (Dragons), Louise McCarthy (Dragons), Ciara Metcalfe (Dragons), Lucy O’Reilly (Scorchers), Una Raymond-Hoey (Scorchers), Clare Shillington (Typhoons), Mary Waldron (Dragons)

Monday 1st August, Ireland v South Africa, T20I at YMCA (4pm)
Wednesday 3rd August, Ireland v South Africa, T20I at YMCA (4pm)
Friday 5th August, Ireland v South Africa, ODI at Merrion (10.45am)
Sunday 7th August, Ireland v South Africa, ODI at YMCA (10.45am)
Tuesday 9th August, Ireland v South Africa, ODI at Malahide (10.45am)
Thursday 11th August, Ireland v South Africa, ODI at The Hills (10.45am)

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