Roy Torrens ‘absolutely pivotal’ in Ireland’s journey from Associate to Test match status

Roy Torrens with Phil SimmonsRoy Torrens with Phil Simmons
Roy Torrens with Phil Simmons
Many people have been influential in Irish cricket’s meteoric rise over the last two decades, but for Kyle McCallan and Andrew White, there is no disputing who has been the “biggest cog in the wheel”.

When you think of Ireland’s most iconic World Cup moments - including the ground-breaking triumph over Pakistan in the Caribbean in 2007, the historic 2011 beating of England, the slaying of West Indies at Nelson in 2015 - Roy Torrens is synonymous with all of them.

Torrens, who has died aged 72, is best known as having been Ireland’s cricket manager for over a decade in an era when the country was on its remarkable journey from amateur also-rans to a team capable of upsetting the world’s best, and ultimately to Test match cricket.

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Mike Hendrick, Adrian Birrell and Phil Simmons were obviously revolutionary coaching figures, while on the field there have been many brilliant cricketers without whom those famous victories over Pakistan, England and West Indies would not have been achieved.

Roy and Joan Torrens. Picture by Barry ChambersRoy and Joan Torrens. Picture by Barry Chambers
Roy and Joan Torrens. Picture by Barry Chambers

But since Torrens’ sad and premature passing over the weekend, a common theme has been prevalent: Ireland’s successes owe so much to the charismatic North Wester’s expertise behind the scenes.

While Birrell and Simmons in particular helped hone the technique and tactics of a new generation of Irish cricketers, Kyle McCallan and Andrew White recalled how Torrens was influential off the pitch in making Ireland’s amateur wheels turn on the journey towards professionalism.

An experienced hotelier, his expertise meant Ireland’s overseas tours ran smoothly without the coaches having to worry about logistical headaches.

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But he was so much more than just an organiser. Torrens also offered an arm around the shoulder when the players needed it most and an endless stream of laughs.

Roy Torrens and captian Kyle McCallan together at Malahide in 2008 when McCallan was Ireland captain for a game against CanadaRoy Torrens and captian Kyle McCallan together at Malahide in 2008 when McCallan was Ireland captain for a game against Canada
Roy Torrens and captian Kyle McCallan together at Malahide in 2008 when McCallan was Ireland captain for a game against Canada

It is a measure of Torrens’ closeness to Birrell and Simmons that both have been left devastated by his passing.

An emotional McCallan said: “Both Aidy and Phil depended on Roy. Roy was someone to bounce ideas off, he gave wise counsel, he knew Irish cricket inside out, he was able to steer the coaches in many ways, not just on the field but off the field.

“I think both of them depended heavily on Roy. He was the manager right through Phil Simmons’ time and they were like peas in a pod, they were never too far apart.”

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McCallan has lost a “father figure”, someone who provided laughs in abundance, but also words of comfort.

He continued: “There was a very serious side to Roy, of course there was, but most of the time spent in his company, you just spent it laughing. It’s hard to think that we won’t do that again, but the memories and the stories will go on for years to come. We went out for dinner after the Test match at Lord’s (in 2019) and we met in the hotel afterwards. That was probably the last time we were all together. Big Roy sat at the heart of it. You talk about the people who have been pivotal in Ireland’s journey from associate nation to Test match cricket and Roy is at the absolute centre of it all.”

White, now Ireland’s chief selector, recalls. “From a players’ point of view we could not have asked for a more fitting man to manage the squad from its transition from amateur to professional status. He knew and loved Cricket Ireland, he understood people and he wanted nothing more than to win games of cricket.

“Team spirt can be bandied around as being a common ingredient in most teams but to perform in World Cups to the level we did took a very special team bond.

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Roy was without doubt the biggest cog in the wheel and no matter the situation, he was there with an arm around the shoulder or fairly strong nudge to put you back on track.”

White describes Torrens as an “incredible servant to Irish cricket and one of the most loved sporting characters”.

White recalled how away from matches the players “tried our hardest to win him up and cause havoc” but how the canny Torrens was “always one step ahead”.

“On a personal level I will miss Roy immensely. Along with his wife Joan, Ydel and I shared many great times with them in Ireland and around the world,” he added. “Memories that will last a lifetime. He leaves a big void, not least for Joan, Andrea, Judith, Joanne and the entire family circle but in many people’s lives.”

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Torrens, an OBE, retired as Ireland’s cricket manager in 2015, He played 30 times for Ireland as a right-handed batsman and medium-paced bowler, taking 77 wickets at a cost of 25.66.

He was also an Irish League footballer, playing in an Irish Cup final for Ballymena United. He served as president of the Irish Cricket Union from 2000 before becoming Ireland’s first full time cricket manager in 2004.

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Alistair Bushe