Ireland Cricket should now be recognized as producing cricketers at the very young age at the international level. Louise Little (also known as Lou Lou), who turned 14 on Tuesday played the second ODI of her career against India on Monday. In 2014, Gaby Lewis at the young age of 13 had become the first 21st century-born cricketer in her country. Another current player Lucy OReilly (now 17) was the youngest international player.
The brother of Lousie Little-Josh Little, became the second youngest player to play for Ireland when he played a T20 game v Hong Kong last September (2016), informs Little’s father.
Speaking exclusively over her mobile from Dublin, he says, “Since 2007 when Ireland famously beat Pakistan at Sabina Park during the Cricket World Cup, the game of cricket in Ireland has been growing in popularity quite dramatically. Cricket Ireland are seeking to make cricket mainstream in Ireland and have put in place measures to develop the game across the entire island. Our children have benefitted directly from the training and coaching structures that have been put in place both by Cricket Leinster and by Cricket Ireland. Everything that has been achieved by the cricket administrators in Ireland has been managed on a relatively shoe-string budget in world cricketing terms. There has been huge strides made to develop the game, but there is still much to do to maintain the game of cricket in Ireland at its current level and to hopefully bring it to the next level in the not too distant future”.
“Our children were born between 1999-2003. For them and others around that age group they found themselves entering cricket in Ireland during its golden age. There is a very large number of young people playing cricket in Ireland at present due to this and to the work of Cricket Ireland and Cricket Leinster in ensuring that the development pathways from U11, U13, U15, U17 and U19 exist. The introduction of the Shapoorji Pallonji Academy has also helped to create an elite sports training programme for players invited to join the Academy. Each of these steps have all helped to nurture and develop young cricketing talent in Ireland. This development structure, together with the coaching structures in place were not available at their current levels in the past. It does not come as a great surprise that there have been a number of younger players in Ireland break through in to the international teams in the past 5 years as a result”.
“The reality is that there are quite a number of the Ladies senior team unavailable for selection for this particular tour, either due to work or college commitments. As a result, Lou Lou was lucky enough to get the chance to play a competition at this level quite some time before she might otherwise have done so. It is great for the Ladies game in Ireland that there are 5 debutants on this tour. This bodes well for the future of Ladies Cricket in Ireland”, he further added.
“As so often happens in life, with a name like Little, none of our children are small! Whilst our children started playing cricket when they were young, we now have children aged 5 and 6 years old and upwards playing cricket every Sunday at our Club”, the senior Little signed off.