14 January 2010

The Ireland Under 19 squad have been given a boost ahead of their opening World Cup fixture against South Africa in Queenstown with a visit by New Zealand international stars Shane Bond and Peter Fulton.

Bond, regarded as one of the quickest bowlers in world cricket before his retirement,  took 225 wickets in international cricket, with a strike rate far better than the legendary Malcolm Marshall and Glenn McGrath.

Fulton has represented the Black Caps in 10 Test matches and 49 One day internationals, and a highest first class score of 301 not out.

In an inspiring hour long session with the players, both spoke about how they forged successful careers, and touched on areas including preparation,  playing against ‘the big guns’ of Australia and South Africa, mental strength, positive attitude, sticking together and playing to your strengths.

Irish Cricket Operations Director Mark Garaway said of the pep talk, “For me it was great to have Pete and Shane come and speak with the boys. They were open, honest and up front with their answers and manner. They also showed a lot of respect for the squad and for Irish Cricket based on their own experience against Ireland in the 2007 World Cup.”

“The questions flowed from the players, which was great to see as the session had been kept a secret from them and some were visibly shocked that we had two such internationals come to address the team and answer any questions.”

“On this trip, the boys have had a lot of input from numerous people with significant International experience and World Class Performance. It has already been a fantastic learning curve for the Under 19's and an Irish side has never been so well prepared and had such first class input as this current squad. With the experience and advice on offer these last few weeks, we should be ready for the tough tests that we have ahead of us in our Group Stage in Queenstown.”

Among those who have been passing on local knowledge were Nigel Jones who spoke to the squad about the conditions they would encounter, while both Paul Mooney and Fintan McAllister attended the warm up game with the West Indies in Christchurch. Former Irish international Mooney now lives and coaches in New Zealand, while McAllister is playing in Christchurch during the Irish winter.

The session with Shane Bond and Peter Fulton was organised by the Irish liaison officer Liam Williamson, who has been simply magnificent in looking after and supporting the squad since their arrival.

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