James Shannon has admitted he is considering a move to play club cricket in Dublin because it could help his international ambitions.
The 28-year-old Northern Knights captain, who is part of Ireland’s 10-day training camp in India pre-Christmas before heading to Sri Lanka with Ireland Wolves after the festive period, was recently linked with a move from Instonians to Leinster side, Malahide.
Shannon is in no hurry to make a decision on his club future but admitted there are several factors pulling him towards Dublin, most notably the presence of Ireland national coach Graham Ford.
“To be honest, I actually haven’t made up my mind about what I’m going to do yet,” he said.
“There has been a lot of speculation but whatever I do, whether that is staying at Inst or going somewhere else, there is no hurry.
“I’m keeping my options open. I’m focused on the more important stuff so to speak.”
Shannon says there is no noticeable difference in the standards of club cricket between the NCU and Leinster, but Dublin’s better facilities are an attraction.
“I think with the league cricket, there is no difference, we can see that with the quality of the teams,” he said.
“My personal reasons for going would be more facilities and things like that, and more access to the head coach, who is in Dublin all the time, and the coaching staff are there.
“It’s not something that would suit everyone, but these are my top years as a cricketer, it might be important getting the best support at this time.
“That’s not a slight on the facilities in the NCU, but Dublin is the hub of Irish cricket, and everyone else knows that. It’s something that I’m considering.”
Shannon is approaching crunch time in his career. He is one of a host of batsmen vying for places in the Ireland order after the retirements of Ed Joyce and Niall O’Brien. Following the pre-Christmas camp in Bangalore he heads to Sri Lanka with the Wolves after Christmas when big runs would surely ensure a middle order berth in Ireland’s trip to India in February and March when they face Afghanistan nine times, including in an historic Test match.
Shannon said: “People have said that with those guys (Joyce and O’Brien) going you could potentially be starting but anyone could be in that position. If someone goes to Sri Lanka and puts in performances they will merit a place in that team.
“That’s the way the management are going with things, it’s going to be purely based on performance, no matter who it is.
“If you do get a chance, you will get an extended opportunity. I think that’s the best way to do it. It takes away any complacency or staleness from the side and keeps things fresh.
“Those two guys are a huge loss but it opens up the opportunity for other guys to come in, take it on and see what they are made of, see if they handle the pressure of that type of cricket.”
Shannon, who is back to full fitness after a summer when he was plagued by injury, is refusing to look too far ahead in terms of a potential place in the Ireland Test team for that clash with Afghanistan.
“Obviously that’s in the your back of your mind,” he added.
“I’m focused first on Bangalore and I know I am definitely going to Sri Lanka with the Wolves.
“So that is my main focus but I have no doubt the guys who are in Bangalore will be discussing the Afghans. We know what their threat is, there will be more plans brought in. We won’t be able to replicate their bowlers but there will be a lot of talk about how we will go against them.”
One thing Shannon won’t lack for is confidence. That breakthrough innings against India at Malahide last summer is still fresh in his mind, even if injuries meant he wasn’t able to fully capitalise on it in the remainder of the summer.
“I have fond memories of that day,” he added.
“I was under a little bit of pressure having gone to Holland and not done as well as I probably wanted to.
“I was thankful that India just forgot how to catch in the first three overs, I used up a bit of luck.
“You do wonder how you will go against that quality of opposition. To be able to take it to them and come off gave me a lot of confidence about going forward.
“Injuries held me back after that, it was outside my control. I had two or three injections in my shoulder at the end of the season and I did a lot of work on strengthening and fitness. Hopefully I can come through without it reoccurring.”