Gary Wilson’s landmark day as North West Warriors head coach
Gary Wilson is gearing up for his first competitive match as North West Warriors head coach this morning as they get their Inter-Provincial Cup campaign underway against Leinster Lightning at Pembroke (10:45am).
The 35-year-old retired from professional cricket in March after earning 292 Ireland caps to take up the role of Warriors head coach and Pathway Manager.
Wilson was already familiar with the majority of the squad with former team-mates such as Andy McBrine, William Porterfield and Boyd Rankin all included for their trip to Dublin.
After putting in the hard yards during training, Wilson is excited to get underway and watch his squad pit their skills against the defending champions.
“Everybody has been really positive,” he said.
“I knew a lot of them from playing with and against them over the years.
“It was more of a watching brief for the first couple of weeks seeing what the guys wanted and then over the last four weeks or so I’ve been throwing in some comments.
“It’s more about facilitating the guys because a lot of them know what they are trying to do at this level.
“I can’t wait to get going. It’s a slightly different start to a cricket season than I’ve been used to but I’ve still got that excitement going into the first game of the season.”
Wilson was captain of the Northern Knights for the past two seasons and with a ‘best vs best’ approach being taken by Cricket Ireland for this season’s competition, Instonians all-rounder Shane Getkate has joined him in the North West.
Lightning batsman Stephen Doheny has also switched to the Warriors and Wilson believes the pair will have a big role to play for their new side.
“Last year it was no secret that the Warriors were missing a batter or two so I think the changes were important,” he added.
“I think it’s important for the players too. Shane last year probably didn’t get the opportunity that he deserved in the Knights batting line-up so it’s a chance for him to come and show the Irish selectors, coach and captain what he can do in both 50-over and Twenty20 cricket.
“I’m excited for him. It’ll be a different challenge for Stephen too.
“He was playing last year in a very established Leinster side and now he’s going to be one of the main players.
“I’m excited to see what he has to offer as well.”
During his time in the County Championship with Surrey and Derbyshire as well as an international career that spanned over 15 years, Wilson has been able to work with some of the finest coaches in the sport.
He is looking to take parts that he has picked up, mix it with some of his own thoughts and blend it into a winning Warriors formula.
“I’ve been very lucky to have worked with some of the best coaches,” he said.
“In the last 20 years, Irish cricket has been incredibly lucky to have the coaches that we have had.
“I guess it’s just about trying to take their best bits and if I’m half the coach they are I will take that!
“I have my own ideas too and I would like to think I’m fairly relaxed but I’ll let you know if that’s still the case at 3pm on Saturday afternoon!
“We will put a lot of onus on the players to come up with their own plans, and I include training in that as well.
“I like players to take responsibility and I can give them a nudge here and there if I think they can do things better or differently.
“Really I want the players to be coming to me with ideas and how they want to do it.”
One of those coaches is Knights boss Simon Johnston, who has brought his side to another level and developed a superb coach-captain relationship with Wilson over recent years.
“I’m sure there will be some text messages exchanged throughout the season!” said Wilson.
“I’m very thankful to ‘Johnty’ for the way we were able to work together for the last couple of years.
“We worked really well together and I would include him in the list of coaches that I’ll be able to take really good things from.
“What he has done with the Knights has been very impressive.
“He has a great squad of players there and I wish him all the best – just not when he’s playing against us!”
Wilson isn’t fully stepping away from playing and will double his Warriors duties up with captaining CSNI in the Premier League.
“We’ve made some exciting signings and have lost a couple unfortunately with Graeme (McCarter) and James (Kennedy),” he said.
“We’ve signed Luke (Georgeson) who looks like a brilliant player, Ben White is an exciting young talent from Phoenix and Ben Mackey from Armagh and I’m excited to see what he has to offer.
“We brought Lewis Adair in from Woodvale too so I’m hoping that will add real strength in depth and we will see that right down through the club.”
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