Ireland all-rounder Curtis Campher will see his dream become a reality when he steps out to play in this week’s Test at Lord’s.
Campher has already played three Tests for Ireland this year and made a century against Sri Lanka in April but is desperate to feature at the ‘Home of Cricket’ against England.
The prestige of the four-day fixture has been scrutinised since it was revealed the visitors’ star bowler Josh Little would not be involved, while Cricket Ireland’s high performance director Richard Holdsworth labelled the second red-ball meeting between the nations as “a special occasion” but not a “pinnacle event”.
📡 NEWS | Cricket Ireland announces 14-man squad for the historic Lord's Test match.
— Cricket Ireland (@cricketireland) July 8, 2019
But Campher told the PA news agency: “Anyone that has played cricket would be lying if they say they don’t dream of playing at Lord’s.
“It will be an amazing thing to play England in a Test match at Lord’s. It is massive and a real historic venue, with all the history behind it.
“To be a part of that is really, really cool and just to be a Test-playing cricketer is a massive thing. To be part of history, no-one can take that away from you.
“Everyone is buzzing for the week of Test cricket.”
The journey of Johannesburg-born Campher to this point has been recounted many times with an exchange with his now agent Niall O’Brien during a match in 2018 able to speed up the process of the 24-year-old going on to represent Ireland.
Campher always held an Irish passport, due to his grandmother being from Northern Ireland, and had ambitions to play club cricket during the South African winter months once his studies stopped.
Yet in the summer of 2020, at the height of the coronavirus pandemic, he found himself fast-tracked into the senior international set-up and handed his debut in an ODI series against England.
“I was happy to just carry water but before I knew it I was playing the first game versus England, so it has been an amazing three years,” Campher said.
Back-to-back fifties in losing causes provided a glimpse of what was to come from the all-rounder before Ireland ended the three-match series with victory over the world champions after Kevin O’Brien hit the winning runs.
O’Brien has since followed brother Niall into retirement after a stellar career and, while Campher is too modest to acknowledge any type of passing of the baton, he has taken plenty from one of Ireland’s all-time greats.
Campher added: “It was nice to rub shoulders with Kev for the few years I played with him.
“He has done so much for Irish cricket, the contributions he made were immense so if you can have half the career Kev has had, you’ve had a flipping good career!
“Kev is very calm, very relaxed and tries to simplify things. I have tried to take on that approach myself.”
O’Brien memorably crunched a remarkable 63-ball innings of 113 against England at the 2011 World Cup that propelled Ireland to a first ever victory over their rivals.
While Campher may be in the infancy of his own international career, he already appears to have the same panache as the previous all-rounder in the XI.
After arriving on the scene with scores of 59 not out and 68 against England, he has continued to save his best for the big occasion with four wickets in four balls during a T20 clash with Netherlands at the 2021 World Cup and last year’s tournament saw an unbeaten 72 down Scotland.
Campher also followed in O’Brien’s footsteps by scoring a Test century for Ireland earlier this year and knows what any notable achievements this week would mean.
“England are a class act but if I can contribute and help the team in any way, that would be a bonus,” he said.
“Everyone does look to want to be up on the honours board but that is too far to look.
“If it does happen, it happens, but if not life will still go on.”
A key feature of Campher’s strong form over the past 12 months has been enjoyment being at the forefront of his mind, but that should not take away from his determination.
A maiden Test century for Curtis Campher 👏
— ICC (@ICC) April 25, 2023
So high is the belief of the Munster Reds player that he had privately targeted reaching three figures for Ireland long before he reached the milestone.
He is also acutely aware he has won two of his four meetings with England, most recently at the T20 World Cup in October.
Campher said: “A few of the lads have joked about how, since some of us made our debuts (in 2020), we’ve played England four times and won two and lost two.
“They said if we can keep that record going, we’ll have a pretty good careers!”