Ireland wicketkeeper-batsman Lorcan Tucker – who was the stand out batter for the Irish side after being elevated to bat number 3 for the first time at international level – wasn’t a certain starter ahead of the series and admits he was pretty surprised at his recall to the T20I side, but glad he could take advantage of the opportunity and perform for the team.
Tucker, 25, has featured 47 times for Ireland across the formats and was arguably the only Irish batter to come to terms with conditions during the two-match T20I series against the USA last week, scoring 57* and 84 in his two innings.
The two innings were markedly different in style – Tucker’s battling and more tentative innings in the first T20I stood in stark comparison to his fluent, big-hitting knock in the second match. However, so dominant was his run-scoring that he was named Player of the Series.
The 84 in the second match was also Tucker’s highest international score, following his 83 against Afghanistan in January in a one-day international.
“Bal [Andrew Balbirnie] told me a few days before the first T20I that I was playing and would bat three. To be honest, I was pretty surprised as I wasn’t even sure if I was going to be playing. I was delighted to be offered such a good opportunity and glad to contribute where I could. Gareth [Delany] has been excellent batting at three for us in the past and we’re all looking forward to getting him back in the team,” speaking after training, Tucker said.
“They were certainly two very different innings. I suppose the first day, I didn’t feel as confident or as sharp in some of my shot-making. While I thought my tempo was down a bit from where I wanted, the innings gave me some understanding of where I wanted to go in the next game. Luckily, I was able to transfer some of those ideas into practice in the second game and play with more freedom.
“The square is quite used at the moment, but the ground staff have done a good job so far at preparing wickets suitable for international cricket. I felt that it was easier to bat in the second game because of the lights and the slickness they add to the wicket.
“The wickets have broken up and started to spin later in the innings, so I think there will be much more of that in the ODI series. I’m excited to see how our spinners go over a prolonged period of time and it will be up to the batters to manage conditions if it does get difficult.”
During the post-match interview on Thursday, captain Andrew Balbirnie talked about a character they are trying to build in the team. Asked about what this character looks like, Tucker said:
“I think we’re trying to create a stubbornness amongst the team that means that even if we aren’t having the best day, we can still make things happen and win games. Curtis [Campher] is a great example of someone who brings an attitude to his cricket which gets him into such a focused and determined place on the pitch. I know myself that this is something we need especially in T20 cricket which can be so unpredictable.”
While being recalled to the T20 side, Tucker – usually found in the field with gloves on behind the stumps – was playing in a more unfamiliar outfielder position as Neil Rock was the chosen keeper for the series.
Lorcan Tucker has proved his mettle early on:
However, as demonstrated by a comfortable high catch near the deep square leg boundary in match two, Tucker seemed as comfortable without as he does with the gloves. Asked about this, he said:
“I probably prefer having the gloves, because I think I’m more comfortable there and that’s what I do more of on a day-to-day basis. On the other side, I do love running around the outfield trying to stop boundaries, save twos and taking catches.
I think they’re quite different skills, so it’s nice to be adaptable when the team needs it. I think I did it once in March for the Wolves against Bangladesh. Before that, I don’t have a clue the last time I played and wasn’t the keeper!”
Spending time away on tour over the festive period is a new experience for Ireland, so how did the squad spend Christmas Day?
“We had a lovely day as a group, which was great as it was the first Christmas away from home for a lot of us. Some people ventured out in the morning for a Christmas swim before a sit-down dinner in the hotel in the afternoon.
“Everyone was feeling festive and we had done a good job of decorating the team room. The lads divvied out their Kris Kindle presents and it was great to see the thought that had been put into them. Once the evening came around, the sweets were opened and the Ashes was on the big screen. All in all, a very pleasant day.”
The Irish squad now faces the USA in a one-day series at the Broward County Stadium in Florida. Unfortunately, a COVID-related issue resulted in the first match of the three-match series to be called off, but the two sides are expecting the remaining two matches to proceed as scheduled, as long as it is safe to do so.