It maybe cold and wet outside, but already cricket fans in the North West can’t wait for the 2015 campaign to get underway in a few months’ time.
While in previous years they have had their cricket fix staying up to all hours of the night to watch an Ashes series from Australia, but this year they have men from their parish playing for Ireland against the best cricketers in the world.
Quartet William Porterfield, Craig Young, Stuart Thompson and Andrew McBrine (the latter three all ply their trade in the North West) have been selected by Phil Simmons for the ICC 2015 Cricket World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.
Well that’s not entirely true; the four lads have been selected in a 15-man squad to tour the UAE from January 4 to 19.
The tour will comprise four one-day internationals, two against both Afghanistan and Scotland, and is part of the final preparations for the 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.
However, the final World Cup squad will not be announced until early January, following submission to the ICC, but fingers crossed that will be just a formality and the boys will be in that squad.
Porterfield is a shoe-in as he’s the skipper and it will be his third World Cup, as for Thompson, Young and in particular McBrine this call up really just goes to show any young local cricketer that if you put in all the hard work behind the scenes then dreams do come true.
Ireland start their World Cup campaign with a tough encounter against West Indies in New Zealand on Monday February 16, before facing United Arab Emirates in the world famous The Gabba, in Brisbane, on Wednesday February 25.
Next up is the one of the tournaments favourites South Africa on Tuesday, March 3 in Canberra, then Ireland face Zimbabwe on March 7 in Hobart.
Then it’s back to New Zealand to face India, on Tuesday, March 10, before finishing Pool B off against Pakistan at the Adelaide Oval, on Sunday, March 18.
Just like the Ashes series all the games will be live on Sky Sports throughout February and March.
Meanwhile domestically the 2015 season promises to be as competitive as ever, the movement of players hasn’t really started yet with one exception Brigade’s Johnny Thompson has left Beechgrove to ply his trade with NCU side CIYMS.
He will join up with a number of ex-North West cricketers and will be a big loss to the Brigade side.
Premiership champions Strabane will not have the services of Zimbawean Matthew Bentley next season, they will also be missing the now retired Mark Gillespie and those departures will mean they will find it tough to retain the title.
Donegal will once again have a side in the top flight with St Johnston gaining promotion.
They will rely very much on youth with some exciting talent the likes of Michael Rankin, Ryan McBeth to name just two will gain valuable experience in the Premier Division.
Donemana have reportedly signed a young South African bowler but may lose the services of one of their all time greats Junior McBrine who may drop down to the seconds.
Newbuildings, who will play in the Championship next season, will create a bit of history as they will be the first club to play their cricket in the Cityside in 35 years after City Of Derry’s demise from Duncreggan Road.
The North West Warriors who showed a lot of improvement as the season progressed winning the T-20 competition will be looking to push on next season and do better in the other formats of the tournaments.
They will of course have three current internationals to call on which should give great encouragement to the other young members of Bobby Rao’s side, it is a credit to the players and management that they are on an upward curve as they put in a lot of work during both the playing and close seasons.
Off the field on the administrative side Jim Lindsay, who was the Union secretary for a long number of years and did a tremendous job, has retired but will no doubt be seen around the grounds in the coming season.