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Last Updated: Thursday, 12 April 2007, 19:57 GMT 20:57 UK
Dream comes true for Johnston

By Martin Gough
BBC Sport in Barbados

Trent Johnston
Johnston has played cricket with several Australian players

Trent Johnston watched Australia as a 17-year-old during the 1992 World Cup hoping that one day he would play on cricket's biggest stage.

He has been doing that for the last two months, but not quite as he planned back then.

Johnston, who hails from Wollongong, New South Wales - the same town as Brett Lee - is one of three Australian-born players representing Ireland in Friday's World Cup clash in Barbados.

He will come up against several friends who came through the same state youth system, including batsman Michael Clarke and pace bowler Nathan Bracken.

"To come up against the guys I played cricket with and against five or six years ago is something I've looked forward to," he said on the eve of the game.

"I've probably bowled my 10 overs [in my head] about 150 times."

Johnston was in the New South Wales squad for three years, playing six first-class games, mainly in 1999/2000.

They are guys who have contributed to Irish cricket over a prolonged period and hopefully whose kids in time will contribute to Irish cricket

Kyle McCallan

On his first-class debut he opened the bowling with Lee, who would go on to make a splash in Test cricket later that season.

Unfortunately for Johnston, he did not make the same sort of impression, but the steps were already in place for him to move on.

He had begun playing club cricket in Ireland in 1995, returning for four more seasons, and it was there he met his wife Vanessa. The pair now have two children.

Although he continued to play grade cricket in Sydney, he qualified for an Irish passport, and coach Adrian Birrell decided he would be a useful addition to the national side.

"We were chasing up an Irish passport and the carrot was dangled of playing in a World Cup," said Johnston.

"That came through, we packed up and moved in 2004 and I've been in Ireland ever since."

Johnston now lives in Dublin, working as a fabric salesman, but didn't he grow up dreaming of playing for Australia?

"Obviously. Unfortunately it didn't happen, but Ireland gave me the opportunity and I'm very grateful."

Ireland have come under fire in some quarters for fielding an Aussie trio, with bowler David Langford-Smith and opening bat Jeremy Bray also set to face their native country on Friday.

But spinner Kyle McCallan articulated the feelings of the whole squad when he said recently: "These guys are not mercenaries who have flown in for the World Cup.

"They are guys who have contributed to Irish cricket over a prolonged period and hopefully whose kids in time will contribute to Irish cricket."

It is not just Johnston, Bray and Langford-Smith who have a chance of fulfilling a childhood dream as they take on the defending champions at Kensington Oval.

"It's a fantastic stadium and just to play Australia in a World Cup is going to be massive so it's going to be a special time for me," he said.

"But it's also a special feeling for the other 14 guys in the squad, to come up against the world champions who are going for a third title and have been in pretty awesome form."

SEE ALSO
Ireland set for Aussie onslaught
12 Apr 07 |  Cricket


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