Getting his many international players more involved with a stack of emerging talent is a big priority for new NSW head cricket coach Trent Johnston.
Johnston pledged that his side would continue to play the attacking cricket championed by his predecessor and mentor Trevor Bayliss, who recently took over as head coach of the England team.
As a fast bowler Johnston played five first class matches and a one-day game for NSW in 1999-2000 and went on to represent Ireland in five World Cups, two of the one-day variety and three in the Twenty20 format.
He captained his adopted country during an international career spanning 2006-2013 and held down a number of coaching positions there.
Wollongong-born Johnston, 41, returned to Australia last July as an assistant to Bayliss and enjoyed success with the NSW Under 19 Metro team, which had a number of players graduate to the Australian side in that age group.
NSW currently has ten players in the Ashes squad and while international commitments will limit their availability to play, Johnston intends involving them in the Blues as much as possible.
“I remember 20 years ago when I was net bowling against the Waughs (Steve and Mark) and (Mark) Taylor and (Michael) Slater and it was an amazing honour to do that,” Johnston said.
“I want to get those (current NSW international) guys around here and working here with the younger guys in the squad, especially the rookies.
“I’ve had a conversation with a couple of guys over in England already about that.
“They were very receptive to that when they can get over here.”
Johnston said he wasn’t feeling initial pressure to deliver success for the Blues, who last season finished runners-up in the one-day competition and third in the Sheffield Shield.
“We obviously want to win national titles and I think with a few things we’ll change around the group, I think we can achieve that,” Johnston said.
“I’m looking to bring trophies back here. It’s not very nice walking through (the Cricket NSW) reception and not seeing the Sheffield Shield there.
“That’s a massive target of mine.”
He felt Blues allrounder Shane Watson could still play international cricket for three to four seasons and backed him to bounce back if he made the cut for the second Test at Lord’s later this week.