THOMAS Street became a makeshift crease on Saturday as Limerick went cricket crazy.
Limerick Cricket Club teamed up with metropolitan district mayor Michael Sheahan to hold an event designed to encourage people to take up the game.
And although Ireland’s national cricketers failed to beat Pakistan in their World Cup game on Sunday, it looks like the sport has a positive future in Limerick if Saturday was anything to go by.
For more than 400 people turned up, including many youngsters keen to try their hand at the game.
Nets were set up to catch flying balls, but it did not stop seven-year-old Ciaran Galvin and his twin brother Jeffrey from hitting long balls up the street.
The Glasgow Park youngster said: “I am really enjoying playing. I managed to hit the ball right up to the top of the street. It is the first time I have played today, but I hope to play again. I only play soccer as a striker at the moment.”
Chris Thomas, the youth coach with Limerick Cricket Club was particularly pleased with the engagement of the youngsters.
“Who knows, the next test cricketer might be among our ranks here,” he said, with a nod to a child showing excellent bat-and-ball control.
“The response from the public has been great: everyone is coming in, everyone is having a go, and that is all you really want. Realistically when you are coaching kids, it is all about having fun, and using this fun to get fit,” he said.
Chris said that cricket skills are transferable from hurling and golf, saying: “We have seen a couple of lads who play golf, and they have found the swing very easy. It is great we have created such a buzz.”
Jim Doran, Munster’s regional development officer for Cricket Ireland was also in attendance at the fun day.
“I have been very impressed. The age range is huge, and the enthusiasm has been wonderful. It just shows you that cricket is a coming sport in Ireland. It bodes really well for the future. Hopefully we will be a test nation by 2020, and this will stop the cricketer drain to England,” he said.
Sujith Babu, 13, from Dooradoyle whose family hail from India, has played as an all-rounder for Limerick Cricket Club the last three years.
“It is good to see that Ireland is starting to enjoy cricket, and there are other sports than soccer or Gaelic football,” he said.
He and his family were praying for an Ireland win against Pakistan. Sadly that was not to be.
But Limerick Cricket Club hope to get a recruitment boost from the day.
For more information on the club and to get involved, visit www.limerickcricket.com.