Ireland appoints new National coach
One of South Africa's leading coaches is to take on responsibility for the development of Irish cricket. Forty-one year old Adrian Birrell has, over the past two years, taken Eastern Province to the semi-finals and finals of South Africa's main limited overs competition. He has also been to the forefront of resurrecting cricket in the South African townships and has been one of the driving forces behind the country's much vaunted development. He will take on the role as Ireland's full-time national coach in time for Ireland's major test in the Cheltenham and Gloucester third round tie against Nottinghamshire in Dublin on 1 April.
Birrell, who played 45 first class matches for Eastern Province as a leg spinner and top order batsman, and subsequently coached the South African U19 side that toured the West Indies in 1992, said, "I look forward to the challenges that lie ahead within Irish Cricket. My objectives for the national side are to take it into Division One of the World League of non test playing countries as well as laying the foundations for entry into the 2007 World Cup. I am also keenly aware that the Irish sides at U13, U15, U17, and the Women's Senior Team are European champions, and I will see it as my responsibility to encourage the general growth of cricket throughout Ireland."
The Chairman of the Irish Cricket Union, John Caldwell, said the Union was delighted to secure the services of a "coach with impeccable credentials o a thorough knowledge of the game combined with impressive coaching qualifications. But he also has a manner which is guaranteed to give players confidence."
The Chief Executive of the Eastern Province Cricket Board, Dave Emslie added a ringing endorsement from Port Elizabeth: "I very much regret that the Eastern Board is losing Adi Birrell and we wish him well. When Adi became the EP coach he took over a very disparate bunch who needed to be moulded into a close knit team. He did this superbly. His humble and genuine yet firm approach was appreciated by all who came into contact with him. Suddenly players who were looking to leave the province wanted to sign long term contracts. The reason was that they trusted and believed in him."
Birrell will be Ireland's third professional coach, following in the footsteps of former England Test bowler, Mike Hendrick, and former New Zealand captain, Ken Rutherford.