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Cork Cricket Club

Ross looks to future of Cork Cricket

With summer approaching, sport is moving steadily to the centre of the general public’s consciousness, towards a bumper season of events such as the London Olympics and Euro 2012 to savour.

But for a group of Corkmen, it’s the evocative thwack of willow on leather that will provide a more genteel soundtrack to the summer, far from the frenzied hordes of fandom clamouring for the most high profile sporting occasions.

Notwithstanding the well-established iconic status of cricket, it remains a minority sport in Ireland, and in this province, it’s a minority within a minority. “Cricket in Munster is somewhat like rugby in Connacht,” says Ross Durity, captain of Cork County Cricket Club senior squad. “That’s the challenge for us, but we are seeing movement and change that is slowly changing things.”

For the long established club, which has a history stretching back to 1874, efforts to develop the game locally have seen the club move to participate in the Leinster league, as well as the Munster league, in recent seasons.

Outsiders accustomed to inter-provincial rivalries along lines etched by rugby and GAA might regard a Cork club’s participation in the Leinster league as sacrilege, but for Ross, the move has been crucial for development purposes.

“In the last 10 years,” Ross (29) admits, “I’ve taken a total of about four years out of cricket, because the standard hasn’t been great, due to the fewer resources, players and teams in Munster. We haven’t been developing as players. But we’ve got better exposure, and between the two leagues and provincial cup tournaments, we’ll be playing 35 games between now and the beginning of September.”

The development of cricket in this country has faced obstacles, not least among them the perception of the sport as an upper-class and “English” game. However, rather than a monolithic barrier to the development of the sport, this has been more in the nature of an iceberg that has been slowly melting and diminishing over the past 15 years.

Ross has an intimate knowledge of the most recent developments in the game. Cricket is in his blood. He has been playing “since I was able to pick up a bat”, as his father, Leo Durity, is from Trinidad, where the game is a national sport. Leo helped to establish the Cork Harlequins club before moving to Cork County Cricket Club—with his 11-year-old son—in the 1990s.

“If you go back over 10 years ago, the numbers were way fewer. I was playing in adult matches filling in gaps due to the shortage of players. But now, there are many more adults participating, and the foundations are in place for the structures for proper youth training and coaching, helping to ensure the future of the game,” Ross explained.

Due to the increasing success of the Irish national cricket squad, and helped through Sky Sports coverage of the sport, as well as social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook populated by a huge reservoir of potential young talent, there are exciting times ahead for cricket in Ireland and Cork, Ross reckons.

Such increasing exposure has helped to further diminish infrastructural and funding obstacles to the development of cricket. Cricket Ireland has appointed a development officer for Munster, and Ross too is involved in coaching Munster under-age teams.

Ross, with Cork County youth coach Dermot Giltinan, and Munster development officer Jim Doran, has been closely involved in the promotion of cricket in schools, with the face to face approach being most effective: “You really have to make the first move, so we go out to the primary schools. The basics of cricket are, someone throws a ball, and someone else hits it. It’s a bat and ball game, and that’s what makes it appealing to young kids. We just let them hit the ball.”

At club level, the question of tight resources is always prominent, with assistance sought from the National Lottery, and ongoing fundraising campaigns being held to help with developments. But the efforts have been worth it. Located in a beautiful setting in the Mardyke, the club’s historic pavilion has a modern bar and restored function room, catering for functions and parties, as well as serving patrons attending matches and training nights at the club.

The increased exposure in the Leinster league has led to the club being invited to participate in the 2012 North Down CC T20 Tournament this weekend, representing Munster and giving the pre-season event a truly All Ireland feel.

Cork County is also hiring a professional coach for the summer, Sam Ward from New Zealand, who will work with the club from this weekend until the beginning of September—a welcome development for the likes of Ross, who, as a coach and a player, often feels stretched in his efforts to attain the balance between training others and working on his own game.

Looking to the future, Ross sees vibrant times ahead for cricket. He puts the slow development of the game in Ireland as much down to the stop-start nature of cricket (“in Ireland, we’re used to continuous sports”) as to any post-colonial hang-ups: “The view about the Englishness of the sport, I just ignore, because it’s totally ridiculous. Think about India, and that history of that country; there, cricket is the most almighty sport in the world. And the Englishness of soccer and rugby has been no obstacle to the growth of those sports.”

It is all a question of ensuring a proper development path for young players, Ross insists.

“When I was younger, I represented Munster and Ireland at under-age level. I played alongside the likes of Kevin O’Brien, and I’m not saying I could have been on the national squad too, but if there had been better structures I definitely would have been a better player. If you’re growing up now, you’ve a way better chance of developing faster, and before long, hopefully, there won’t be any need for a Cork team to be playing in the Leinster league,” he said.

“I love this game. My passion is coaching. We’re not doing this for selfish reasons. It’s all about development of the kind of structures that will ensure opportunities for young kids to progress through club and provincial level up to national standard, and ensure the continuance of the legacy of this great club, which is one of the oldest in these islands,” Ross concluded.

Call 021 4272569 if you are interested in becoming a member of the club, or visit www.corkcountycricketclub.com.

Courtesy of The Cork News

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2 Responses to “Ross looks to future of Cork Cricket”

  1. gerrymolyneaux says:

    what teams compete in the munster cricket league.do harlequins have a website.

  2. admin says:

    Hi Gerry,

    There are numerous teams which compete throughout Munster including Cork County, Midleton and Harlequins in the Cork area while there are also sides in Waterford, Limerick, Clare, Tralee, Lismore, Clonmel, Thurles and Galway. As far as I’m aware Harlequins share their website with the hockey Club. If you have any further queries, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

    Regards,
    Robert.

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