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Gary Wilson, Ireland's veteran wicketkeeper-batsman, retires to take up coaching role
Wicketkeeper-batsman played a total of 292 matches for his country in a 16-year career
Gary Wilson, Ireland's long-serving wicketkeeper-batsman, has called time on his professional career and taken up a role as head coach and pathway manager for North-West Warriors in the interprovincial set-up.
Wilson made 188 appearances across his Test, ODI and T20I careers, and a further 104 for the national team in matches without full international status, making him Ireland's third most capped player of all time.
His career overlapped with those of fellow keepers Niall O'Brien and, more recently, Lorcan Tucker, but he took the gloves for the majority of his international career and his ability with the bat in the middle order meant that he was a regular in the side even when he was overlooked behind the stumps.
He was part of the Ireland squad at seven major ICC events - two 50-over World Cups and five World T20s - and captained the side in the T20 World Cup qualifiers in late 2019, which earned them their spot in the tournament later this year.
Wilson also enjoyed a long career in county cricket. He was on the books at Surrey for more than a decade after graduating from the MCC Young Cricketers programme, captaining the club 33 times across formats between 2014 and 2015, and later spent two seasons at Derbyshire, where he captained the side in the T20 Blast.
"To step away from international cricket after 16 years is something I will miss dearly - I will miss the guys probably more than anything, but pulling on the shirt and playing for Ireland was the only thing I ever dreamed of growing up," Wilson said. "To have played for Ireland 292 times is something I am very proud of - if I had thought I'd have made it 10 times growing up I would have snapped your hand off, so 292 times is something I'm very proud of.
"To be named T20 captain for Ireland in 2018 was probably my proudest moment internationally. Again, growing up it was something I could only dream of. As for achievements, obviously the various World Cups and T20 World Cups, but probably my best game in an Irish shirt came in a World Cup match against UAE in Brisbane. There were so many memorable games over the years - the Zimbabwe game in the same World Cup was probably my favourite game to be part of.
"I was lucky enough to have such a long career in England. I was actually a Surrey supporter growing up as well, so to be able to play for them at The Oval for over 10 years, and to captain them and win the County Championship Division 2, to win a CB40 and get to T20 finals day twice - they were things I never thought I'd ever had a chance to do as a kid. I'm so grateful for the opportunity that I had to play for Surrey and Derbyshire
"Coaching is always something I've thought of once I finished playing. What's exciting about it here in Ireland is the impact I think I can have - the opportunity to improve players. Hopefully, I can use some of my experience both from England and playing for Ireland in order to do that. I'm really passionate about Irish cricket and hopefully can help bring through the next generation and see Ireland flourish in the future really excites me."
Andy Balbirnie, Ireland's captain, said: "Gary was a brilliant team-mate and a great friend to have - a guy who you would never hesitate to chat to about anything on or off the field. He was one of those people who, every time he pulled on the jersey, wore his heart on his sleeve, always leading by example in everything we were trying to do as a team.
"Within the set-up, he was one who would always offer to help develop the next crop of young Irish cricketers. I have no doubt he will be a successful coach and I'm looking forward to seeing his progress. We are very fortunate to have someone like Gary still involved in Irish cricket and long may it continue."