University Times - 24th October 2016

The relationship between cricket and Trinity goes back almost 200 years, and continues to prosper into the present day. On September 5th, Lorcan Tucker became the 205th Trinity student to represent Ireland, underlining the College’s importance to the development of Irish cricket.

Growing up, Tucker was always involved in cricket, from watching his father play to being brought to the local Pembroke Cricket Club in Ballsbridge club at a young age along with his brothers. “When we were about six or seven he brought us down”, he says. 

Although Tucker grew up both batting and bowling, in his mid teens he added wicketkeeping to his game, a specialised position for the fielding side, and never looked back: “I took up wicketkeeping as a way to get into a team, a lot of people limit themselves by just batting but if you have wicketkeeping you’re giving yourself an extra option.” 

Having played for Ireland at every underage level, from under 13 to under 19, an important part of Tucker’s development came when playing in the under-19 World Cup in January this year, held in Bangladesh.

The Irish team only qualified thanks to a late withdrawal by Australia, who cited security concerns as their reason for pulling out, allowing Ireland to become the 16th qualifier for the tournament. Tucker acknowledges the difficulties faced whilst touring in this environment: “We were lucky to go and it was amazing. It wasn’t an easy place to tour with the security and the heat and everything that came with it. But the cricket was great. and we got to play in massive stadiums in front of hundreds of people.”

Although Ireland would ultimately struggle at the competition, Tucker impressed in games against traditional heavyweight cricketing nations India and South Africa, scoring 57 and 77 respectively. He would finish the highest-scoring Irishman in the tournament with an average of 44.4.

When asked about what this meant for him and how he sees it influencing his development in the game, Tucker is enthusiastic about the future: “It was really nice to see where you stand against these teams. That’s the international standard, and these people will be playing for India or South Africa in the next few years. It was great for me to know that I could actually compete at that level.”

His achievements at the under-19 World Cup were noted, and his first cap for the full side came in the Twenty20 game against Hong Kong at the beginning of September. Although Ireland would lose the game, Tucker was conscious to get as much out of the experience as possible.

At first, Tucker was a little in awe as he “hadn’t really expected it”. “I just wanted to enjoy the moment and embrace everything and see how the main guys like [William] Porterfield act” he says now, adding that he wants to see what “it’s like being a professional cricketer, it was a great insight into that”. 

Back in college, Tucker praised the advances made by Dublin University Cricket Club in the past season. With Irish international Isobel Joyce signed on as coach; Irish Universities Cricket Association Captain, Will Von Behr, leading the side and professional Matt Petrie and former Somerset County Cricket Club spinner George Dockrell on board, the club rose to third in Division Two. “We had a very good core and went all guns blazing to really pump the club back up. Everything is looking up and we’re building looking for new freshers to come in”, Tucker says.

The modern conception of a wicketkeeper batsman in the shorter one-day forms of the sport is something that Tucker is keen to model his own game on. Being able to score quickly around the wicket is absolutely necessary if you want to make it at this level of the game, and probably the best example of this style in recent years is South African AB de Villiers. “Growing up AB de Villiers was kind of my idol”, he says, but now Tucker seeks to model his game off Englishman Jos Buttler. “I kind of see myself like him or Quinton de Kock. The way they play really aggressive cricket that’s kind of how I’d like to bat myself, being mainly focused on the one day elements of the game.” Playing further down the batting line-up enables someone like Tucker to play more freely and expansively, as he explains: “I like to bat in the middle order as I prefer facing spin bowling. I don’t really like the new ball, I like it at the end, I think I can score quickly at the death and I can obviously play more around the wicket then.”

The world of international cricket is marked by frustration, with smaller nations such as Ireland feeling that the ICC (International Cricket Council) shows too much favouritism to the more traditional elite like England, India and Australia. Recently, however, Ireland’s inter-provincial tournament has been given first class status, a necessary precursor to the possibility of Ireland achieving test status in 2019. Everybody involved in Irish Cricket welcomed the news, and the sentiments of the importance of getting test status for Irish cricket are echoed by Tucker. “I think we’re looking good for the test cricket and if we were to play I don’t think we’d be too far out of our depth and we’d be able to compete and eventually get better and better, it’s just about getting that opportunity.”

When asked about the next goals Tucker sees in his cricketing career, he points to the series against Afghanistan taking place in India in March as an excellent opportunity. Further down the line, the 2018 Twenty20 World Cup is a more long-term goal that Tucker eyes as the next step in his development.
For an underdog sport that exploded back into the nation’s consciousness in 2007, Tucker is part of the new generation that are seeking to ensure that cricket in Ireland is not allowed to drift away again and continues on its upward trajectory.