Ireland have had plenty of game time since the conclusion of the T20 World Cup last year. They have played as many as 22 T20Is and six ODIs to be precise. Moreover, the likes of Harry Tector and Paul Stirling had stints at the Caribbean Premier League (CPL) as well. That’s just what they would have hoped for after a disappointing performance in the T20 World Cup last year.
Lorcan Tucker has been a key figure for Ireland not just behind the wicket but also with the bat, where he has made the No. 3 spot his own. The 26-year-old has scored 373 runs at 41.44 to go with a strike-rate of 141.28 in that position.
Him batting up the order adds more depth to Ireland’s middle-order that consists of Tector, George Dockrell, Gareth Delany and Mark Adair.
Ireland’s recent white-ball fixtures that included matches against India, New Zealand, South Africa, Afghanistan, and West Indies alone this year along with T20 World Cup Qualifiers has ensured that they go into the marquee event with plenty of match practice.
Ahead of Ireland’s opening game against Zimbabwe at the Bellerive Oval, Hobart, Tucker spoke to Cricket.com on the summer they have had, his role in the team, how vital Tector will be and more.
Cricket.com (CDC): You've batted at three quite regularly in the recent past. In fact, all four of your T20I fifties have come in that position. How much are you enjoying batting there? Do you reckon that's your best batting position?
Lorcan Tucker (LT): I think it's been a brilliant opportunity for me to bat at three. I've enjoyed the responsibility that comes with it and I think it suits my style of batting nicely. It's a great chance to give the team an energetic start; be that setting or chasing and it's a role I look forward to continuing into the future.
CDC: You have played a lot of cricket with Harry Tector, including the U-19 World Cup in 2016. Given that he has been in splendid form of late, how vital do you think will runs off his bat be in the T20 World Cup for Ireland to make it to the Super 12s and beyond?LT: Harry is a close friend of mine and we've played together since we were kids. It's been brilliant to see him evolve into the international cricketer he is today. A lot of our good performances this summer were built around some excellent knocks from him so I think he and the team know how vital his role is. I know that he can handle the expectation and we can all expect more from him in the months and years to come.
CDC: Ireland came so close on more than one occasion in the white-ball series against New Zealand and India in getting over the line. How frustrating was it to get so close and not get over the line and what were the learnings from those matches?
LT: It was an interesting summer in the sense that we felt we played very well this summer but without too much to show for it. I think the main thing to take from it was that we now know that we are at the right level. Previously, it might have felt that we knew we were chasing down those bigger teams and not quite with them but we can take great confidence from this summer's performances. It feels like we've got the attributes to win and it's only a matter of time before that starts happening regularly.
CDC: You go into the T20 World Cup off the back of an impressive series win over Afghanistan. That must have been a huge relief for the entire team with the T20 World Cup just around the corner.
Yes, we've always had some great battles against Afghanistan but I think this one was especially significant given the format. T20 cricket has not always been our strength and the stats will probably tell you that we've lost quite a number of T20I's against Afghanistan. To turn the past on its head and get a series win just before a World Cup was pretty inspiring and gave us great motivation for this coming month.
CDC: Heinrich Malan took over as head coach earlier this year. How has the team gotten along with him and how's your experience been with him so far?LT: Heinrich has been a breath of fresh air. He's challenged us to think differently and to apply different methods to achieve the desired results. It's no coincidence that the team is in such a strong mental state going into this tournament. On a personal level, he's always trying to get the best out of every individual and I've felt a renewed sense of self-confidence in the last few months.
CDC: You take on Namibia and Sri Lanka in the warm-up games ahead of the T20 World Cup. What are the areas as a team you think Ireland need to iron out ahead of your World Cup opener against Zimbabwe?
LT: I think we've had some pretty good experience this summer in T20 cricket. The game evolves so quickly so it was important that we felt we were keeping pace with this. For us, it's always about trying to be aggressive. We want to score quickly and efficiently and take wickets throughout the innings. If you can't get on top of the opposition in T20 cricket, fair chance they'll dominate you. We don't want to give them that chance.
UPDATE: Ireland lost to Namibia by 11 runs in the first warm-up match at MCG with Tucker scoring 34 off 35 batting at three in pursuit of 139. Their second match against Sri Lanka at the Junction Oval was washed out without toss.
CDC: Ireland play Zimbabwe, Scotland and West Indies in the first round of the T20 World Cup. How confident are you of making it through to the next round? Having failed to get into the Super 12s last year, is that an added motivation to turn things around this time?
Last year was bitterly disappointing but the great thing about international cricket is that there is always an opportunity to turn things around. We are very fortunate that there is another edition of the T20 World Cup so soon after the last. I think our T20 cricket is in a much stronger state this year around. The motivation and the skills are there - it's important now to try and entwine those and perform on the day.