Dockrell is averaging 101.28 since Ireland’s inter-provincial competition gained List A status in 2017
“It’s not something I would ever have realised was a possibility,” he told ESPNcricinfo before leaving for Utrecht. “It feels absolutely fantastic, and like a real appreciation for the work I’ve put in. I was an opening batter for the Irish Under-13s and that was my first skill – through underage stuff, I’d have considered myself an allrounder. But once I made my debut, I didn’t give it much focus for a few years.
“In my last couple of years playing county cricket at Somerset, it was really tough getting into the side and I realised that I needed to have a bit more about me in terms of my batting and my fielding.
Having also been dropped for the tour to the UAE in January and then declining the opportunity to tour Bangladesh in the spring with the Wolves – which is the Ireland A side – due to concerns about travelling mid-pandemic, Dockrell has had a flying start to the season with four fifties and an unbeaten hundred in five Inter-Pro innings.
“I’d be pretty happy with that [comparison],” he said. “Coming through at Somerset I used to live with Lewis Gregory for four or five years. He came in as a batter and is now a bowler, really, but you can see he’s incredibly talented and has that foundation. There are lots of people who can make that transition.
“This is my 11th year as a professional and that has allowed me so much time working on my batting. I’ve been lucky that I’ve been involved for that long and that I’ve been able to keep chipping away – and that coaches have helped me even when I was batting at No. 9 or 10 and adding very little value. I guess it proves it’s worth it down the line.”
“I’ve done a lot of work on my batting with Pete Johnston and Nigel Jones at Leinster Lightning, but a huge part of it is the mental side of my game: being more prepared and being incredibly clear about what I want to do when I’m batting.”
Dockrell on improving his skills with the bat
Dockrell also attributes his form this season with the fact that he is now balancing cricket with work commitments, allowing him to throw his energy into the limited opportunities he has to train and play. While he is on a retainer contract with Cricket Ireland after losing his central contract at the end of last year, he has also been interning as a technology consultant at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) in the third year of his data science degree at Dublin City University.
“They’ve been fantastic in supporting me through it,” Dockrell said. “In terms of timing, it wasn’t the worst: there’s obviously more of a focus on that now and a little less time on the cricket. That’s maybe taken a bit of the weight away from my cricket and means that when I’m there, I’m fully enjoying it – and maybe a little bit more driven when I do get the opportunity to play.
“I’ve done a lot of work on my batting with Pete Johnston [the Wolves coach] and Nigel Jones [the Lightning coach] at Leinster Lightning, but a huge part of it is the mental side of my game: being more prepared and being incredibly clear about what I want to do when I’m batting. When you’re working through the week and you know you have your one day off to play, you’re absolutely going to make the most of that as best you can.”
“Having that ability to turn the ball away from the right-handers is always useful,” he said. “I’m still working away at my bowling and I quite enjoy the balance now of less pressure on it, and seeing it as something I can add to the team. I’d like to put my hand up for a batting spot, but I’ve never been fussy: I think I’ve batted every position from No. 6-11 for Ireland and if there’s an opportunity to go a little bit higher, I’d be delighted.”
And as for his Instagram bio? “I might have to delete that if things go well this year. That’d be a lovely place to get to. Maybe this time next year I can get rid of it.”
Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @mroller98