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High-school teachers, carpenters, electricians...

Welcome to a world where cricketers are not demi-gods, but just regular people making a living doing regular jobs - where the premier fast bowler is a farmer and the spin twins are high-school teachers.

cricket Updated: Oct 13, 2009 11:58 IST
Arjun Sen

When India face Ireland on June 10 at Trent Bridge, there will, in all likelihood, be a certain Kyle McCallan in the Irish line-up. One of the mainstays of the Irish team, McCallan could, however, have had to miss out on the World T20 had he not put in a few extra days of work at the Grosvenor Grammar School , where the 34-year-old is a PE teacher.

Welcome to a world where cricketers are not demi-gods, but just regular people making a living doing regular jobs - where the premier fast bowler is a farmer and the spin twins are high-school teachers.

Three-time ICC Associate champions in the four-day format, Ireland's fairytale rise began on March 17, 2007, when a motley crew of part-time cricketers, who would normally have a hit at a park on Sunday, shocked former world champions Pakistan in the World Cup.

“Beating Pakistan gave us the belief that we could mix it with the big boys, it was the building block for us, the beginning,” Barry Chambers, manager of the team, proudly says, recalling the famous win at Sabina Park, which fittingly came on St. Patrick's Day.

Ireland may not be the most high-profile of teams, but it certainly is one of the most fascinating.

A domestic season that runs for a little more than four months, and a group of players that could not train together even once before reaching England isn't exactly the kind of preparation needed for a World Cup.

“I work from 8 in the morning to 6 at night, and it becomes tough to find time after that to train, keep my fitness going and practice,” McCallan says.

“And I'm married too, you know, so I have to find some time for my wife too!” he adds, smiling. McCallan is not the only one who finds it difficult to find time for cricket.

“It's been the case with almost all our players," says Chambers. "They are not professional sportsmen and often find it tough to take time out for cricket."

Juggling the two isn't the easiest thing for McCallan, and deep down he knows that he will have to choose between the two soon.

"No one can make a living out of cricket in Ireland. There are just two full-time contracted players in this team, and even they have to supplement their earnings through other avenues," McCallan says.

"I would love to give up my job and play cricket full-time, but unfortunately, it won't be the right call to take," McCallan's says, resignation writ large on his face.

Despite the odds well and truly stacked up against them, McCallan doesn't lose heart. "We are underdogs, and we feed off that. We want to show just what we can do to the world."