HUGE BOOST FOR MUNSTER CRICKET
MUNSTER REDS participation in the 2017 Hanley Energy Inter-Provincial T20 Trophy has been confirmed by Cricket Ireland at their Board meeting in Derry today.
The decision is a welcome boost for cricket in the region, as outlined by Munster Chairman David Griffin: "We are naturally delighted that Munster Reds have got the green light to participate in the Hanley Energy T20 competition this season. This is a major step forward in expanding the pathway for Munster players into representative cricket and to give them the opportunity to push their claims for inclusion in Irish squads.
"It will also provide Munster Cricket with a huge opportunity to increase the profile of cricket across Munster and thus attract more players into the game at all levels," added Griffin.
"We wish Head Coach, Ted Williamson, every success in preparing the squad for the upcoming games and welcome the Irish Academy players and those others with strong Munster connections who are joining with us to make Munster Reds a very competitive force in the T20 competition.”
The Munster squad will be bolstered by the inclusion of players from the Shapoorji Pallonji Academy, with former Leinster Lightning coach Ted Williamson at the helm.
Thanks to assistance from Cricket Ireland, the squad have already been preparing for the competition, and hope to hit the ground running.
"There have been four sessions so far over the winter, with our first full squad session over the weekend, which also included some Leinster-based and National Academy players," said Head Coach Williamson.
Former Irish international Williamson is pleased with the players at his disposal, and is backing his enthusiastic squad to make an impression in their debut season.
"From a local perspective Stephan Grobler, Morne Bauer, Aaron Cawley and Gary King are more than capable at this level. We'll also have some exciting prospects from the Cricket Ireland Shapoorji Pallonji Academy who are from outside of the union and have agreed to play in the Munster T20 squad this year.
"The squad ticks a lot of boxes from a skills perspective and the calmness of the experienced group will compliment the fearlessness of the younger guys in what will be a very cohesive unit based on what I've seen so far."
Cricket Ireland Performance Director Richard Holdsworth outlined the rationale behind the decision to include Munster in the T20 format.
"The format is an area of strategic importance for the organisation, and we have 24 months to build a squad for the next ICC World T20 Qualifier," said Holdsworth. "The more we can play at this level will allow us to identify those players with the right skill-sets for this format.
"The Munster Reds have worked hard over the last 12 months in building a squad which will be supported by some players from outside of the union in order to strengthen them further and ensure they are competitive.
"This opportunity gives Munster Cricket a brand and pathway to help grow the game and increase participation in the province, and we believe there is a great momentum there to do this now. We're delighted to welcome them into the Hanley Energy Inter-Provincial T20 competition, and I'm certain they will be a great addition to the tournament."
Munster Reds historic first game in the tournament is a home clash with the Northern Knights at The Mardyke on Friday May 26th (5pm).
The full list of fixtures for 2017 can be found on www.cricketireland.ie