A bunch of talented people, a bunch of extraordinary sportspersons, eleven souls that are dedicated to this extremely beautiful and enthralling game of cricket. Same goal, varying ideas one direction, one pillar that walks together and works together to make it a team, the leader, the captain. Cricket not only is a team game, but a result of joint individual efforts and is all about putting one’s heart and soul into this very special game. We bring to you the story of this leader who has committed herself to her team, her country, to cricket.
Laura Delany, Captain, Ireland.
Born on 23rd December, 1992, Delany is a top-order batter of quality, effective change bowler and is developing into an increasingly confident and influential leader. Laura was handed the captaincy in April 2016 and it was no looking back since.
Female cricket brings to you the exhilarating journey of this leader, her personal interest, her contributions to Ireland Cricket and everything you had want to know.
Excerpts from the Interview
Take us down the memory lane, at what age did you recognize your passion for cricket and how?
When I played for the Irish Under-15 team, I knew I had aspirations to try and push on. Then when I was 16 the Irish women’s team had a home series against Nottinghamshire, and I was called into the squad after a few late injury withdrawals. While I didn’t play in the series, this first experience with the senior set up cemented my desire to try and play at the next level.
What is it about Irish cricket that motivates you the most?
The opportunity to represent my country with a group of players who are committed to being the best they can be and try and take our team to a new level.
With the upcoming T20 World Cup, what are the few things the team needs to work upon?
Consistent performances is one thing that will be crucial for us in the West Indies, as we have shown in recent times how dangerous we have the potential to be with the bat and ball. Thankfully, with the opening of our new High Performance Center in Dublin, we have been able to have more specific training sessions to meet individual player needs.
At a personal level, how have you been preparing for the World Cup?
We have all been working hard on different aspects of our games - we know we have some challenges ahead and some big performances to put in if we want to give ourselves the best opportunity of progressing in the tournament. A lot of work has also been put in with Anne Marie Kennedy, our sports psychologist, to help us feel as prepared as we can be.
Whom do you idolize and in what ways do they inspire you?
Suzie Bates, specifically the way she can accelerate through the gears. She plays a very attacking brand of cricket and has a very clear plan of where she wants to score. She has been very effective for New Zealand and was a very successful captain.
How has captaincy affected you as a human being?
The captaincy has made me a lot more assertive and decisive - I feel I’m growing with every game and feeling more comfortable. There have been times I felt as though I needed to prove myself of being a worthy captain which probably led to a lot of self doubt. I still have a huge amount to learn tactically but what I’ve learnt is that you can’t please or impress everyone. At the end of the day it’s what the other 14 players think what really matters.
Tell us something about your childhood that has helped you in International cricket?
Come from a sporting family – I have relatives, including a brother, who have played for Ireland in Cricket and in other sports. I suppose I have always been involved in sport in various ways.
What according to you makes a team successful, recognition, retention or resilience?
A clear vision that everyone buys into, respect for that vision and respect for one another. I think that drives commitment, hard work and passion to keep going when things are really tough.
What according to you still lacks in women's cricket?
Professional contracts for Irish women's cricketers, as balancing full-time work with full-time training isn’t ideal. Whilst other teams are off playing in more tournaments getting valuable pitch time, we’re at home working. This in turn leads to probably one of the biggest struggles in that we are coming up against teams that are playing regular, highly competitive matches in varying conditions.
Tell us something about Irish cricket that you think is different from other countries?
The Irish cricket scene is probably a lot smaller than in many leading cricketing nations, so we have a lot of instances of siblings/cousins also playing international cricket – there are some strong and inter-generational family connections that run throughout Irish cricket.
With the T20 World Cup almost a couple of months away, what's the team atmosphere like?
Everyone is working hard and pushing each other at this stage we’re just itching to get going.
Which department needs to be brushed up the most for the coming tours?
While our batting has certainly adopted a more aggressive and attacking approach in recent times, we know that our bowling unit needs to work on keeping things tighter.
What do you keep saying the girls that boosts the team's morale?
There is no real message needed at this stage – being four weeks away from the World T20 tournament is providing all the motivation we need. It’s just a case of continuing to focus on our preparations and training schedules, to ensure we peak at the right time.
One thing about your initial cricketing days that you will never forget?
Wearing the yellow bib! When you start out on the fringes of the senior team, the 12th and 13th players in the squad put on a yellow bib and support the team from the sidelines. While I enjoyed the opportunity to be part of the squad, I wanted to be on the field playing. Remembering those days means that I will never take my place for granted. Wearing the yellow bib though, is a motivator – for me, whenever I wore the bib it just made me work harder and ensure I was giving myself the best opportunity to be playing.
Where do you see the Ireland Cricket in the next 5 years and what are the strategies to get there?
Tough question - we are currently reviewing our domestic tournament (Super 3’s) and trying to put plans in place to raise the standard further. We have some very talented younger players coming through, so ensuring they continue to develop at the rate they are will prove very promising for Irish women’s cricket over the next couple of years.