Tector on fast-track for success

Tim Tector (pictured right) has always been ahead of the game, emulating Eoin Morgan in representing Leinster as an 11 year-old two years ahead of his peers, while also scoring a century for Ireland U15s against Middlesex.

The 18 year-old YMCA all-rounder has been named in the Leinster Lightning squad for the current campaign which gets under way next week, with seasoned observers tipping him to have a breakthrough campaign.

Described by his coaches as “very committed, talented, driven and ambitious”, Tim, the youngest of three brothers from the latest Dublin cricketing dynasty, has all the qualities needed to make it to the very top.

Tector is no stranger to the interprovincial format, having made his debut in 2020 for Munster Reds, but he has yet to don the blue cap of Lightning, despite getting close twice last season.

“I played twice for Munster Reds but unfortunately the rest of the games were wiped out last year,” Tector told CricketEurope.

"I was in the Lightning squad then for the final 50 overs matches, and although I didn’t get picked it was great to be in that environment.”

Leinster’s domination at interprovincial level has forced Cricket Ireland into a change of tactics, with the governing body selecting the best 48 cricketers and dividing them up amongst the provinces.

Tim as an 11 year-old with Leinster Lightning

It’s an idea that has met with his approval, where he will be playing alongside eldest brother Jack, but in opposition to Harry, the Irish international the new skipper of the Northern Knights.

“I think it’s a brilliant concept,” said the young Dubliner. “There’s a real buzz amongst the squad and everyone’s really excited by the new campaign.

“It’s going to bring fresh players to the competition and I’ll think it will lift the whole standard completely. I can’t wait for the first games to get going, when hopefully I’ll make the starting eleven next week against the Warriors.”

There’s no secret to Tim’s success, it’s the result of hard work, with his commitment praised by YMCA Coach Kamal Merchant, who has coached Tim from the age of seven.

“His development has been remarkable,” said Kamal. “He has an incredible work ethic and this is being reflected in his talent and fitness levels. He like his two brothers and younger sister  Alice have always been cricket mad.

“From 11 his game moved up a gear as he played in YMCA fourths, quickly moving up the ranks. His real breakthrough year came after scoring a century for his Sandford Park School, going on to score four hundreds that year and getting used to occupying the crease.

“Tim has an insatiable appetite to learn, spending long times in one-to-one sessions on different shots. He is very strong on punches off the back foot, cuts and pulls powerfully, and cover drives very smoothly. His lofted drive over extra cover is something special, just pure timing and class. He has incredible passion, determination and talent which a great combination,” added Merchant, a legend not only in his native Pakistan, but also in Ireland, where he gained citizenship earlier this year.

“Tim has an excellent attitude, respectful, modest and quiet, with an easy going but at the same time serious attitude to the game.”

Brian O'Rourke with Tim Tector

It’s also a big year for the Ireland U19s who have a World Cup Qualifying tournament in Scotland at the end of July. Tim will be hoping to emulate Harry, who was at the helm when they qualified for New Zealand in 2017/18.

“Qualification is the goal,” said Tim, who will lead the squad this year. “It’s been a difficult winter for us with Covid-19 meaning we haven’t got to train as a squad yet. That will hopefully be rectified in the next few weeks, and over the coming months we have a lot of cricket coming up.

“We have been included as one of the teams in the new Emerging Interprovincial competition so it will be great to get some game time under our belt. That’s another really exciting competition that has been set-up by Cricket Ireland.

“I just hope we do get back training soon so the guys get to know each other’s games. I haven’t played with some of those in the squad, but I know from talking to them that they are all buzzing for the season ahead and determined to do what it takes to make the final squad for the qualifiers and get on that plane to Scotland.”

With games lined up too against the MCC there could be as many as ten games for the squad, so they won’t be going to Scotland under-cooked, a criticism of previous campaigns when lack of finance severely hampered preparations.

Tector hasn’t been afraid to get out of his comfort zone, travelling to South Africa at just 16, where he combined cricket with education, and being ‘Johnny on the spot” also made two appearances for Ireland Wolves against Nambia and Titans, playing alongside his brothers.

Jack, Tim and Harry Tector

“I took fourth year of my studies out just before December 2019 and spent almost six months in South Africa.

“The first part was spent in Durban at the Futura Sports Agency. The main coach there was Craig Yelverton of North Down, who obviously knew a lot about Irish cricket, so it was good to tap into his knowledge, as well as playing matches there and experiencing different conditions.

“Next was the Leinster School Exchange set up by Brian O’Rourke, which was at St Stithians College. The facilities there were again amazing, and have to be seen to be believed. The standard of cricket was also exceptional, and it was a great way to spend the winter.”

While there, the Sandford Park schoolboy answered a call to hook up with the Ireland Wolves, with Head Coach Pete Johnston’s side missing a few players through injury. Johnston had no hesitation about giving the teenager his first taste of international cricket.

“I had no qualms about drafting him in despite his age,” said Johnston. “He leaves no stone unturned in his preparation, and his game has been on an upward trajectory.

“He has been excellent, since becoming one of the younger ones to join the Academy, and has certainly made the most of his time over the years.

“Tim is a good accumulator of runs, and has been adding another string to his bow with his off-spin where he has been tapping into Simi Singh’s knowledge of that, working hard through the winter. He has a lot of experience in that short time despite just turning 18.

Tim batting for Ireland during the 2019 U19 WCQ

“I’m always wary of putting young players under too much pressure of expectations, but I feel that the exposure with Lightning this year in the interpros will be a great learning environment for him. He has very much his own style, natural with good hands and eye co-ordination. I try to encourage him to stay as free as possible and not get too technical. He has all the attributes you look for.”

Tector has immersed himself with all the coaches he has worked with over the past decade, paying tribute to all those who have got him to where he is.

“Kamal has been involved pretty much my whole career, teaching me everything I know, and been such a positive influence on me.

“Brian O’Rourke was my coach when I came into the Leinster youth sides at 11, and it’s been great that he’s back involved with the Lightning squad now, to have that continuity. Others that have been excellent are Ryan Eagleson with Ireland U19s, Nigel Jones with Lightning, plus Albert van der Merwe and Pete Johnston at the Academy. It’s been brilliant to have the breadth and depth of their experiences, which have been so instrumental in my formative years.”

Primarily a batsman, he has spent the past year working hard on his off-spin, benefitting from the international nous of Claremont Road team-mate and Irish international Simi Singh.

“Simi has so many skills and variations, which he tells me he gets from other bowlers he comes across and adds it to his game,” said Tector.

Tim Tector bowling for Leinster

“He’s been really great to work with as he knows so much about bowling. He tells me his thought processes, how he goes about things. It’s another way of improving my game, becoming more rounded.”

While his brothers and Lightning team mates are obvious role models, Tector himself is an admirer of former England international Kevin Pietersen.

“If I was to emulate anyone from a batting style it would be Kevin Pietersen. I like watching his innings and the masterclasses he has done, picking up little tips how he went about things.

“Locally, it’s been such a great environment being around the Lightning squad where there are so many experienced internationals. “Players of the calibre of Kevin O’Brien, Andy Balbirnie, Barry McCarthy, Simi Singh, the list just goes on. They have all been so helpful to me and so willing to pass on their knowledge, which just can’t be bought.”

While lockdown has been a challenge for everyone, Tim took advantage of the situation to continue his development.

“Jack was at home for the first lockdown so we played ‘stumpy’ in the garden with Harry, and my young sister Alice as well.

The Tectors after YMCA won the All-Ireland T20 Trophy

“We went on runs together too, and helped each other out with fitness and we all kept ourselves busy. It was great to have them as a captive audience and be able to talk to them about their experiences on their cricketing journey so far. What’s worked for them and where they feel they made mistakes and would do it differently again.

“They have gone on this path before me and to be able to ask them whatever I want really has been so invaluable.”

While cricket obviously takes centre stage, Tim also plays other sports, where the competition between family extends to the golf course where they are members of Portmarnock.

Tim and Jack are both 14 handicappers, with Harry and Heatley just above them. It’s the patricarch Heatley who usually takes the family bragging rights. It’s called experience…

The Tectors after Harry skipper Ireland U19s to the World Cup

He also plays hockey and a little bit of tennis but he admits “it’s more to hang out with friends rather than anything too serious. It’s great to have those sports as an enjoyable outlet rather than too focussed and concentrated on.”

While he is the penultimate year of his studies, doing final exams June 2022, he makes no secret of his desire to be a professional cricketer.

“That’s what I want to strive for, that’s my main goal. Next year I’m hoping to spend the winter experiencing another cricketing culture, new competitions and opponents, different standards, possibly Australia or New Zealand.”

While one of the downsides of Full Membership has been the closure of the English County system for young Irish cricketers, that isn’t a problem for Tector.

“My goal has always been to play for Ireland. I’ve seen where Jack Carson has gone down the county route with Sussex very successfully, but my sole focus is and always has been is with Ireland, and that is the path I want to go.”

Heatley Tector, Kamal Merchant and Alan Lewis

Close family friend Alan Lewis, capped 121 times at senior level, believes he has what it takes to succeed.

“Tim is a great kid who works ferociously hard in a quiet way. He simply wants to be a professional cricketer.

“For someone so young he hits the ball incredibly hard with a great sense of timing, and his own individual style.”

Who knows, if his career continues on its’ upwards trajectory he may well feature in the County Championship alongside Carson, but as an overseas professional.

Now that would be something for the amiable Dublin teenager.