Andrew Balbirnie: "Overall we feel as prepared as we can be "

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Andrew Balbirnie: "Overall we feel as prepared as we can be "

Andrew Balbirnie, an Irish cricketer, the current captain of the Ireland cricket team talked for cricbuzz about his career and about the challenges he had so far. You've played England quite regularly in recent years, how crucial is that, going into this important series? We have played England at Test cricket and one-day cricket in recent years, and - complemented by the player video analysis that we have access to these days - feel we know their strengths and threats reasonably well.

(Head Coach) Graham Ford and I have discussed tactics to try and negate these, however, I will encourage the Irish lads to have their own game plans and I will back their instincts during the matches. Overall we feel as prepared as we can be ahead of the series.

There's a lot of excitement around Curtis Campher, the South Africa-born all-rounder and leg-spinner Jonathan Garth. Tell us more? Both Curtis and JJ are talented young cricketers, and we hope they both can progress to be stars of the future.

Curtis is originally from South Africa, but holds an Irish passport. After featuring for South Africa U-19s, he has decided to pursue his international cricket ambitions with Ireland and we are delighted he has joined us on this trip.

He is a big-hitting all-rounder, who provides pace and movement with the ball - we had a close-up look at him in February when he played for the Ireland Wolves against Namibia in South Africa, and he has impressed coaches and teammates with his strong work ethic and will to succeed.

Jonathan, or JJ as everyone calls him, is an up-and-coming leggie who has featured in our Academy and Wolves' programmes in recent years. He certainly has cricket genes, as both his parents played for Ireland, and his sister Kim was the Irish vice-captain and now plays professionally in Australia.

JJ is fearless as a bowler, certainly seen as an attacking legspinner who isn't afraid to give the ball air. He is quite a handy lower-order bat as well, so is certainly an exciting prospect for us.

Andrew Balbirnie on Captaincy

Still early days in your captaincy...

how has it been settling in? I am following in the footsteps of a legend of the Irish game - William [Porterfield] was captain for 11 years and led Ireland through a dramatically changing time, from Associate to Full Member status.

While I certainly learnt a lot about leadership from Porty, I have my own thoughts and ambitions for the role and have enjoyed the challenge thoroughly to date. Saying that, I will possibly be known as the COVID Captain as this last four months have been a unique set of circumstances for everyone - it has been a learning experience for sure, but one from which I am determined that we emerge stronger.

The West Indies series in January was my first in charge, and I was very proud of the way the squad performed. We went within millimetres of beating the Windies in the second ODI, and then went on to dominate them in the first T20I.

These were great experiences, and I certainly took a lot away from the tour. Just before lockdown we were in India playing Afghanistan, and drew the series with a dramatic Super Over win in the third T20I. So, the signs are positive and the challenge now is to continually improve our team and our performances - while it looks like 2020 may be light on in international cricket, we'll be ready for a big 2021.