George Dockrell has enjoyed quite the turnaround in 2021 but hopes there are more highs to celebrate at the T20 World Cup this month.
Already Ireland’s fifth most capped player, Dockrell is preparing for his fifth Twenty20 tournament and preparations step up a notch today when they face the UAE in the first of three internationals in Dubai.
Dockrell has enjoyed memorable moments in previous editions, taking three wickets against West Indies and Netherlands, while he also claimed the prize wicket of Australia opener David Warner during the 2012 competition, but this time he will look to make his mark with the bat.
An honest chat with Ireland head coach Graham Ford saw the 29-year-old Dubliner turn his attention to batting and the runs have flowed for Leinster Lightning and Ireland, on his international recall, earning him a contract renewal in August.
“It is probably quite unique my career, in terms of starting off in 2010 as a pure left-arm spinner who bats at 11 and now changing my role to bat in the top five,” Dockrell admitted.
“I had a chat with Graham Ford last year and he felt the opportunities weren’t there for me anymore as an out-and-out spinner who could bat a bit but there was something there with my batting that if I could work on it and bat in the top five for Lightning, I could maybe do the same for Ireland.
“It was a big change for me but to have done that, got the runs domestically to get into the Irish team where I have contributed a little in that role has been really exciting. I have absolutely loved it.”
A maiden List A century for Lightning in May was a timely boost of confidence before scores of 40 and 45 respectively against the Netherlands and South Africa in 50-over cricket were followed by 33 not out – Dockrell’s second best T20I score – in a victory over Zimbabwe.
He added: “For me, if I am honest, a huge part of what I enjoyed this year was actually I lost the central contract but went away and got an internship in Dublin, so that was really nice to see a whole new side of things.
“I guess it brought cricket back to being a hobby again and there was a real love for what I was doing in terms of my batting, so when I got out to bat in the domestic games I was very hungry to do well.
“Getting the early runs was nice to cement that spot and make me feel like I was doing the right thing, then getting opportunities with the national team was a huge bonus so I have been happy with how the year has gone. Now I want to kick on and contribute to wins and play those big knocks.”
In 2009 Ireland made the Super Eights in their maiden T20 World Cup but despite plenty of 50-over success, they have struggled to replicate that in the shortest format and finished bottom of a group with Bangladesh, the Netherlands and Oman at their last global event in 2016.
But Dockrell insisted: “Playing on the biggest stage is always huge for us. We have struggled to have the same run we have had at the 50-over tournaments, so it is a huge opportunity for us to show how far we have come.”
UAE lost to Namibia, Ireland’s final group opponents at the World Cup, on Tuesday by 17 runs so the result of this series – the remaining games are tomorrow and Sunday (6am BST) – will be an early benchmark for Ireland going into the tournament.