Inter-Provincial Series: Players ‘excited’ by revamp ahead of new season – White

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Leinster will take on North-West Warriors in Saturday's opener in Dublin
Leinster will take on North-West Warriors in Saturday’s opener in Dublin

Ireland chair of selectors Andrew White hopes the new-look interprovincial series will be the springboard to success on the international stage.

Leinster Lightning have dominated the series but the revamp aims to make all four teams competitive in a bid to raise standards.

“If you listen to the players, they are are really excited about what lies ahead,” said White.

“If we can raise the standard it will better prepare players for Ireland.”

The 2021 season starts on Saturday with Leinster hosting North-West Warriors in a 50-over encounter at Pembroke.

Lightning have won 19 of the 23 trophies available across all three formats since the inception of the series in 2013.

Balancing act

The redistribution of talent this year sees the 48 top players in Ireland spread across the four teams, each with a core squad of 12.

Munster Reds will play in the 50-over competition for the first time while there new Performance Hubs in Belfast and Bready.

Munster Reds have been strengthened and will play in the 50-over Cup
Munster Reds have been strengthened and will play in the 50-over Cup

Everything is tailored to benefit the Ireland team – with no Tests this summer and three white-ball world cups in the next three years, the series will have 50-over and Twenty20 competitions only.

Ireland are going through a transitional period with many of the mainstays over the last 15 years bowing out to be replaced by a new generation.

White believes learning from the best in the inter-pros will help the young crop develop into top players at international level.

He added: “It’s something Graham Ford (Ireland coach) is adamant about – that young players learn best from the best players and we’re thankful to have the likes of Boyd Rankin playing with the Warriors, Kevin O’Brien at Leinster and Paul Stirling with the Northern Knights.

“If you are a young player getting an opportunity to play in the inter-pros there’s no greater men to learn from. Guys that have played in world cups, guys that have played at the top level for a long time.

“The most impressive thing for us as selectors is that those guys are so willing to give up their time to bring the young lads through. I think they are really conscious of the role they have to play – this is vital to the progress of younger players and vital to us as a national team.”

Young guns

Harry Tector is a prime example of this changing of the guard – the 21-year-old takes over as Knights captain from Ireland stalwart Gary Wilson, who retired in March to become coach at the Warriors.

Tector’s hopes of leading the team to success this season are boosted by the arrival of big-hitting Ireland opener Paul Stirling, a batsman at the peak of his powers and set to be a key weapon for the Knights.

Northern Knights hope Paul Stirling will be celebrating centuries in their colours
Northern Knights hope Paul Stirling will be celebrating centuries in their colours

“Hopefully I can lead the Knights in the direction we want to go that will ultimately lead to us winning more trophies,” said the middle-order batsman.

“Even though I am quite young I have quite a lot of experience of captaincy at Irish underage level and Ireland A, including captaining guys that will be playing for the Knights this summer.

“To have Paul Stirling available to us is obviously a massive coup. That he’s going to be playing for us from the start of the season is brilliant.

“It’s certainly brought a buzz around the squad and around the whole series – having him in the team is very exciting.”

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