Former Irish international Nigel Jones says he’s ‘delighted’ to have been announced as Head Coach & Pathway Manager of Leinster Lightning.
Jones has built up an extensive coaching portfolio having been Ireland U17 coach since 2013 as well as serving as the U19 assistant coach and working in the Ireland Emerging Players Programme as a skills coach for two years, among other positions.
The 37-year-old has also played a huge part in developing the sport in the NCU over recent years and is now preparing to take his first step into a prominent senior role.
Leinster have been the dominant force in Interprovincial cricket, winning 15 of a possible 18 trophies in all formats since 2013, and Jones can’t wait to get started later this month.
“I’ve always wanted to have the opportunity to coach or play in Leinster, and this is a perfect professional step for me and one I’ve been looking out for and working towards,” he said. “When the opportunity came along, it was a no-brainer to put my name in the hat and give myself the best chance of getting the role. I’m delighted now that I’ve nailed to down and looking forward to all the hard work ahead.”
Captained by George Dockrell, Leinster have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to their playing squad with internationals such as Andrew Balbirnie, Kevin O’Brien and Barry McCarthy all star performers.
“It’s a strong squad and the key for now for me in this role is to make sure the standards are continually being set and met,” added Jones. “We are looking to improve everyday and not necessarily measuring against opposition. It’s key to make sure that the Lightning boys continue to meet standards and push Irish cricket forward.”
Jones has been a player in the NCU since 2003, spending time with Cooke Collegians, CSNI and is now captain of reigning Premier League champions CIYMS.
He also served as the Northern Knights assistant coach from 2018 and will be coming up against players he knows extremely well in his new role at the Lightning.
“For me, It’s about putting my professional hat on now and I have a lot of experience of that with the Irish youth,” he said. “I’ve spent huge amount of time with the Interprovincial players and you are there to do a job and do the best you can. Relationships are still relationships and you’re focusing on giving the best to the environment you’re in. There will be healthy banter flying around and I’ll be keen to make sure the Lightning boys keep getting wins in the column!”
Jones will first be focusing on a massive weekend for CIYMS with a Gallagher Challenge Cup quarter-final clash with Carrickfergus on Saturday before hosting Merrion in the Clear Currency Irish Senior Cup second round the following day. Merrion knocked the Belmont side out at this stage in 2018 and Jones will be hoping fortunes will be reversed this time round.
“It’s a huge weekend for us,” he said. “We have focused a lot on the Challenge Cup and we have to get through Carrickfergus which is going to be a challenge.
“We need to turn up and if we do that and keep things simple as we have been, we will hopefully get the right result. That will hopefully bring us into Sunday with even more confidence.
“It’s a heavyweight clash on Sunday - there’s no way around that. I’m looking at the column for us playing against Merrion, and I think we are due a win!
“There’s no better time to put down a really strong performance at home and hopefully get that. Hopefully we can finish the weekend and be two from two.”