Ireland’s Curtis Campher ‘buzzing’ for Lord’s Test experience against England

By Sports Desk May 31, 2023

Ireland all-rounder Curtis Campher will see his dream become a reality when he steps out to play in this week’s Test at Lord’s.

Campher has already played three Tests for Ireland this year and made a century against Sri Lanka in April but is desperate to feature at the ‘Home of Cricket’ against England.

The prestige of the four-day fixture has been scrutinised since it was revealed the visitors’ star bowler Josh Little would not be involved, while Cricket Ireland’s high performance director Richard Holdsworth labelled the second red-ball meeting between the nations as “a special occasion” but not a “pinnacle event”.

But Campher told the PA news agency: “Anyone that has played cricket would be lying if they say they don’t dream of playing at Lord’s.

“It will be an amazing thing to play England in a Test match at Lord’s. It is massive and a real historic venue, with all the history behind it.

“To be a part of that is really, really cool and just to be a Test-playing cricketer is a massive thing. To be part of history, no-one can take that away from you.

“Everyone is buzzing for the week of Test cricket.”

The journey of Johannesburg-born Campher to this point has been recounted many times with an exchange with his now agent Niall O’Brien during a match in 2018 able to speed up the process of the 24-year-old going on to represent Ireland.

Campher always held an Irish passport, due to his grandmother being from Northern Ireland, and had ambitions to play club cricket during the South African winter months once his studies stopped.

Yet in the summer of 2020, at the height of the coronavirus pandemic, he found himself fast-tracked into the senior international set-up and handed his debut in an ODI series against England.

 

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Curtis Campher (@curtcampher13)

 

“I was happy to just carry water but before I knew it I was playing the first game versus England, so it has been an amazing three years,” Campher said.

Back-to-back fifties in losing causes provided a glimpse of what was to come from the all-rounder before Ireland ended the three-match series with victory over the world champions after Kevin O’Brien hit the winning runs.

O’Brien has since followed brother Niall into retirement after a stellar career and, while Campher is too modest to acknowledge any type of passing of the baton, he has taken plenty from one of Ireland’s all-time greats.

Campher added: “It was nice to rub shoulders with Kev for the few years I played with him.

“He has done so much for Irish cricket, the contributions he made were immense so if you can have half the career Kev has had, you’ve had a flipping good career!

“Kev is very calm, very relaxed and tries to simplify things. I have tried to take on that approach myself.”

O’Brien memorably crunched a remarkable 63-ball innings of 113 against England at the 2011 World Cup that propelled Ireland to a first ever victory over their rivals.

While Campher may be in the infancy of his own international career, he already appears to have the same panache as the previous all-rounder in the XI.

After arriving on the scene with scores of 59 not out and 68 against England, he has continued to save his best for the big occasion with four wickets in four balls during a T20 clash with Netherlands at the 2021 World Cup and last year’s tournament saw an unbeaten 72 down Scotland.

Campher also followed in O’Brien’s footsteps by scoring a Test century for Ireland earlier this year and knows what any notable achievements this week would mean.

“England are a class act but if I can contribute and help the team in any way, that would be a bonus,” he said.

“Everyone does look to want to be up on the honours board but that is too far to look.

“If it does happen, it happens, but if not life will still go on.”

A key feature of Campher’s strong form over the past 12 months has been enjoyment being at the forefront of his mind, but that should not take away from his determination.

So high is the belief of the Munster Reds player that he had privately targeted reaching three figures for Ireland long before he reached the milestone.

He is also acutely aware he has won two of his four meetings with England, most recently at the T20 World Cup in October.

Campher said: “A few of the lads have joked about how, since some of us made our debuts (in 2020), we’ve played England four times and won two and lost two.

“They said if we can keep that record going, we’ll have a pretty good careers!”

Related items

  • Southgate 'ambivalent' towards England criticism: 'It used to annoy me' Southgate 'ambivalent' towards England criticism: 'It used to annoy me'

    Gareth Southgate is now "ambivalent" towards the constant scrutiny he and England face, unsurprised his team were criticised even after making a winning start to Euro 2024.

    England beat Serbia 1-0 on Sunday and have the opportunity to secure their place in the last 16 against Denmark on Thursday.

    Victory would mark the first time the Three Lions have started a Euros campaign with back-to-back wins. Indeed, prior to last weekend's match, they had only once won their championship opener – also under Southgate at Euro 2020.

    Those facts were relayed to Southgate on the eve of the Denmark match, with the England manager asked if too much was expected of a team whose stuttering second-half performance against Serbia was picked apart by fans and pundits.

    But Southgate, in his fourth tournament in the role, has come to terms with the narrative around the England team.

    "I've been in this environment for eight years, so I understand it all," he said. "It used to annoy me, but now I'm ambivalent to it. Winning matches in tournaments is incredibly hard."

    Those younger members of Southgate's squad who have not previously experienced the tournament rollercoaster might have been a little more taken aback by the response to the win.

    Southgate explained: "You can see a lot of them who haven't been with England – 'right, we've won our first game, and this is how it is?'

    "That's a strange experience for some of the boys who haven't been with us. It's great that we've got experienced players who have lived through it who can say, 'no, no, this is what's important, this is how we stay on track'.

    "Our assessment of the game is most important. We're never slow to pull things up that aren't right, that aren't good enough. So, that's the most important view, the way we dissect the game."

    Southgate did acknowledge Sunday's match did not go entirely to plan, with Serbia gaining a foothold after half-time, albeit without really threatening to cancel out Jude Bellingham's early header.

    "We didn't set out to sit back," insisted Southgate, with similar patterns in previous tournament matches having been a point of contention.

    Both Southgate and the England supporters will hope for a more complete performance against Denmark then, although the manager confirmed left-back Luke Shaw would not return from injury in time to feature. Right-back Kieran Trippier is in line to deputise again.

  • De Kock and Rabada see South Africa past USA as Super 8s begin De Kock and Rabada see South Africa past USA as Super 8s begin

    Quinton de Kock and Kagiso Rabada impressed as South Africa held on to defeat the United States by 18 runs in an entertaining encounter as the Super 8s began at the T20 World Cup on Wednesday.

    Opener De Kock smashed 74 runs from just 40 balls and captain Aiden Markram added 46 for the Proteas as their top order finally fired after enduring a difficult start to the tournament.

    Even though Harmeet Singh (2-24) removed De Kock and David Miller (0) in consecutive balls in the 13th over, Heinrich Klaasen (36 not out) and Tristan Stubbs (20no) helped South Africa to a healthy 194-4 in Antigua.

    USA fell to 76-5 just after the midway point of their innings as it looked like a chase of 195 would fall flat, but a magnificent partnership of 91 from 43 balls between Andries Gous and Harmeet took USA to within 28 of their target with two overs to spare.

    However, Rabada took the crucial wicket of Harmeet for 38 and killed the contest as his 19th over went for that wicket and just two runs, capping a fine bowling display that saw him finish with figures of 3-18 from four overs.

    Gous batted on and finished with an impressive unbeaten 80 off 47 balls, but USA fell short as South Africa maintained their 100 per cent record in the competition so far.

    Data Debrief: De Kock and Gous impress

    After USA won the toss and elected to field before removing Reeza Hendricks (11) in the third over, they sensed an opportunity to seize control.

    But De Kock had other ideas, smashing three successive sixes as South Africa scored a huge 28 off the fourth over to seize momentum they did not relinquish from there.

    De Kock’s superb innings included five maximums and seven fours until he was finally removed by Harmeet in the 13th over.

    As the South Africa star left the field, only three players had recorded a better innings than him in this year's tournament – West Indies' Nicholas Pooran (98), USA's Aaron Jones (94 not out) and Afghanistan batter Rahmanullah Gurbaz (who has had scores of 80 and 76).

    But Gous then immediately topped him with an excellent knock of his own, and the American now has the most runs in the tournament with 182, putting him 15 ahead Gurbaz, who is back in action against India on Thursday.

  • Almighty clash: Windies target England scalp in Super 8s with unbeaten run on the line Almighty clash: Windies target England scalp in Super 8s with unbeaten run on the line

    Having downed England 3-2 in their T20I series last year, West Indies are hoping to replicate those winning performances on an even bigger stage, as the two familiar foes square off in Super Eight of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup at the Daren Sammy Cricket Ground, in St Lucia, on Wednesday night.

    First ball is 7:30pm Jamaica time.

    With both West Indies and England being two-time champions, the anticipation is high ahead of what should be another intriguing clash in which familiarity will bring success for one or the other.

    However, West Indies captain Rovman Powell is optimistic that his team will come out tops and set the tone for the remainder of their Super Eight fixtures, while pushing England, the reigning champions, on the back foot.

    Both teams have met 29 times in the game’s shortest format, with West Indies holding a 17-12 advantage, one which they are intent on extending, especially on the back of their rich vein of form. Still, while the Caribbean side enters the business end of the tournament unbeaten and England just squeezed through by virtue of a better net run rate than Scotland, Powell knows better that to take the opposition lightly.

    “They are the defending champions and they are a very good team. So, it’s for us now to just sit and find some plans and see how those plans can work against them,” Powell said in a pre-match press conference.

    West Indies celebrate after topping England in their five-match T20I series last year.

    “We play them [England] actually every year, so they know a lot about us, we know a lot about them. It’s just that when you’re playing the game on the day, whoever gets on top has to stay on top for as long as possible,” he added.

    With the venue –named in honour of their current coach Darren Sammy, who captained West Indies to World Cup triumph in 2012 and 2016 –being to their liking, Powell pointed out that they will once again be aiming to capitalise on the conditions in Saint Lucia. West Indies rewrote the record books a few times in their first game of the tournament at the venue on Monday, as they hammered Afghanistan by 104 runs.

    West Indies have won six of 10 T20Is played at the Daren Sammy Cricket Ground, including five of the last six. But, Powell is well aware that England also have a liking to the venue, as they have never lost any of their previous three T20Is at the ground, including five years ago when they beat West Indies by four wickets.

    “We always knew that St Lucia was going to be one of the better pitches to play matches on in the Caribbean because of our experience during CPL (Caribbean Premier League) and all the years of playing here,” Powell noted.

    Obed McCoy (left) and Nicholas Pooran (back turned) starred for West Indies against Afghanistan.

    “So, it’s good that we’re starting here, and we played one game on it (against Afghanistan) before the start of the Super Eights. We’re kind of a little bit accustomed to the boundaries and accustomed to the wicket. Hopefully, it would suit us a little bit more than the Englishmen,” he said.

    On that note, Powell welcomed the headache that comes with selecting the most formidable 11, as pacer Obed McCoy replaced Romario Shepherd and did well, bagging 3-14 against Afghanistan, while Shai Hope, wo replaced Roston Chase in the middle order, also contributed handily to the victory.

    Shepherd, who returned home for personal reasons ahead of the Afghanistan contest, is expected to rejoin the team for this Super Eight opener.

    “It’s always good and encouraging when you give guys an opportunity and they take the opportunity because it makes for good competition within the squad. It’s for us as a selection panel – myself, the coach and the chairman – to actually sit down and try to find the best combination. It’s good that guys are putting themselves up and making it a little bit difficult to pick the team,” the Jamaican reasoned.

    “I think a big part of my captaincy is giving guys opportunities and supporting them. Johnson Charles didn’t have particularly a good start to the World Cup but we always knew when he comes home, he’s going to feel at home, he’s going to feel his St Lucians behind him,” Powell shared.

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.