Awards galore for North West cricket
It was a good night for North West cricket as local clubs and personalities won a host of accolades at the ITW Sports Irish Cricket Awards on Friday evening.
There was double success for Bready with the cricket club’s ‘Cricketing Cooks’ effort being rewarded with a ‘Turkish Airlines Spirit of Cricket’ prize, while Alana Dalzell won the ‘O’Neills 1918 Female Club Player of the Year’ prize.
Elsewhere it was a night to remember for Peter Gillespie who became the inaugural Cricket Writers’ of Ireland Hall of Fame inductee.
No doubt the most poignant moment of the ceremony though was when Roy Torrens was named winner of the ‘Outstanding Contribution and Service to Irish Cricket’ category - an award dedicated to the memory of the late John Wright.
The death of ‘Big Roy’ impacted many people the length and breadth of the country and the flood of tributes in the intervening weeks are a clear testament to the esteem in which he was held.
At Friday’s presentation it was Roy’s best friend and himself an icon of the game here, Robin Walsh, who accepted the award on behalf of the Torrens family.
“It’s a privilege for me to accept this award on behalf of Joan and the girls who incidentally are delighted that Roy has been honoured in this way,” said Robin.
“Of course there is deep sadness but I know that it is something that will provide fond memories for them. It is also fitting that the award is in memory of John Wright, celebrating two of Irish cricket’s finest men.”
There were also testimonies to the former Ireland Manager from Adi Birrell and Phil Simmons as well as Kyle McCallan, John Mooney and several other former players.
The constant theme was of a man for whom nothing was too much trouble. A man who made it his business to be there when he was needed. Most importantly a man whose company people wanted to be in.
Despite the many restrictions we’ve had to endure in the past 12 months, 2020 has been a very good year for Bready CC’s Dalzell.
The 19-year old has, along with Eglinton’s Zara Craig, been making her mark in the Women’s Super Series and the pair have also been named in the Emerging Ireland Women’s training squad for 2021. She made her debut for Bready’s first team in August last year, bowling superbly in a win over Strabane and on Friday night Alana won the O’Neill’s Women Club Player of the Year.
Speaking at the weekend, the trainee Physiotherapist was thrilled with her award but was focused on her progress in the year ahead.
“It was difficult with so little cricket being played last time so we’re all hoping that things will be better this summer,” she explained.
“I’m a competitive person so I always want to be pushing myself. I play regularly for Bready thirds but I want to be playing in the seconds and in the first team.
“I wasn’t nervous when Davy (Scanlon) told me I’d be playing in the senior team last year. I know all the boys already and I also work in the club bar so it wasn’t as if I was a new face. We all socialise regularly so that made things a lot easier.
“I suppose it’s slightly different when we travel to the Super Series or Ireland training squads. The girls there all know each other already and many of them go to school together.
“Last year we had a lot of Zoom meetings and I actually found that a big help. I got to know the rest of the group a bit better and it felt more like being on the same level.
“In the same way that I want to play club cricket at the highest level that’s also my ambition in the Irish set-up.”
For Bready committee member Trevor Hamilton he was delighted the club’s work during the coronavirus lockadown was recognised by winning the ‘Turkish Airlines Spirit of Cricket’ accolade.
“Incidentally it was only meant to be a one week project,” he joked. “We had a committee meeting just prior to lockdown last year when it was all doom and gloom and at that meeting it was suggested we make something positive out of it. It was proposed that we provide a meal to the elderly and vulnerable for one week, but one week turned into 30 weeks spread over a year.
“Fair play to the group of volunteers; volunteers from within the club - family members, players and members of the community association and the football club, everyone teamed together to make this possible.
“The feedback we have been receiving throughout the community has been unbelievable and the knock on effect from this initiative there seems to be more a collective community approach when we go for funding applications as well. We are working with the community association, with the local schools and hopefully going forward there will be more community approach to everything within the club.
“It’s great to get the recognition for the work that has been put in. It hasn’t been easy over the last year, so to get recognition from the governing body is great and we are humbled to, firstly, get nominated but to win it was a great achievement for everybody.”
Hamilton is now looking forward to the future and hopes that he can throw away his cooking apron and put on his cricket whites this summer.
“Cricket is a big part of our summer and to not have a cricket season would be disastrous for all clubs in the North West, so hopefully if we get schools back after Easter, then the knock on effect will hopefully see outdoors sports start again and that in turn will mean we have a cricket season this year, which incorporates T20 and the longer versions of the game,” he added.
“There’s a lot of interest in the game in the area. Kids in particular are just dying to get outside at the minute, so it would be lovely to be able to give them the opportunity to play cricket over the summer.
“We’ll be delighted to stop making the dinners once this lockdown is over.”