HOLYWOOD cricketer Ross Adair has become the second member of his family to be capped for Ireland after making his professional debut during the squad’s tour of Zimbabwe last week. The 28 year-old all-rounder opened the batting alongside captain Andrew Balbirnie in the first of three T20 internationals on Thursday, with younger brother Mark only too delighted as he joined him in the side. Ross, a former Ulster Rugby centre whose career in the sport was eventually cut short through injury, then had the pleasure of receiving his cap from Mark – a key part of the Ireland cricket set-up since 2019 – with the pair becoming the first set of brothers to play for Ireland in an international since Niall and Kevin O’Brien at Malahide in 2018.

    It made for emotional scenes in Harare, which were felt no more significantly than back home in Holywood by the boys’ father, Ricky. “When you see them pulling on an Irish jersey together, it’s quite something,” he said. “I suppose you never really think you’re going to see it and Thursday morning was special, I must admit. “Mark was so delighted to be able to hand Ross’ cap over to him. It was a precious moment for us back at home, but the two boys are quite close, so for Mark to have that honour was great for the both of them.” Ross and Mark’s love for the game dates back to before they were schoolboys at Sullivan Upper – and their dad was there to watch it unfold from day one. “When the boys were old enough to be interested, we had a bit of a lads and dads team down at Holywood which I looked after,” he explained. “Mark must have been about nine and Ross was 11. They played their first senior game with me back then which is kind of where their cricketing journey started. “Holywood is at the centre of both their universes in many ways. They’re local lads with a local heart,” said Ricky. “There’s no one more dedicated that I have seen in professional terms [than Ross]. Once he commits to something like this, he’s all in, and he would tell you that himself. “He worked really hard on his skillset to be in the frame and opportunities can come in different forms. “Whilst Ross was more than comfortable stepping in – he’s a professional sportsman after all and is used to that discipline and higher standard – it was nice to have his brother on the field with him. “I think his style lends itself really well to T20. If he’s allowed another opportunity, that confidence in a green shirt will only help him,” he added. “It remains to be seen whether they think he’s done enough to be considered going forward, but I was really proud, both with the selection and that he came away from the tour showing in some part what he can do and how he can contribute. “As parents, sometimes you get a chance to relax when, say, Mark isn’t batting, but when you have one opening up and the other closing, it changes the dynamic of your emotions as you watch. “I shouldn’t complain really, but it does play into your nervous system when you’ve got a couple of them on the field.”

    Taking to Twitter afterwards, Ross wrote: “Amazing experience in Zimbabwe, naturally disappointed with how the series turned out but an insane amount of learnings to take away. “The atmosphere in the HSC was incredible. Best of luck to Bal and the lads for the ODIs. Stick the kettle on, Mum! Ireland’s tour of Zimbabwe, which saw the hosts claim a 2-1 T20 series win, continues with three One Day internationals (ODIs), the first of which was played on Wednesday and the remaining two set for January 20 and 23.