What does Leo Varadkar know about cricket?
‘I know the rules, or should I say the laws,’ says Taoiseach
Leo Varadkar was somewhat star struck when he met cricket legend Sunil Gavaskar.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar was quick out of the traps to congratulate Cricket Ireland for securing Test Status following a meeting of the International Cricket Council (ICC) in London.
But how much does the Fine Gael leader actually know about the game?
Quite a bit, actually.
On Thursday, while he was making his debut as Taoiseach on the European stage, his office released a convincing sounding statement that said he was delighted Ireland would now take its place among the Test playing nations.
“Ireland has enjoyed some notable successes at international level in the shorter versions of the game. We can now look forward to some great days ahead as Ireland takes on the top Test cricket playing nations in the world.”
The sporting heroes Mr Varadkar grew up with were legends like Sunil Gavaskar, Sachin Tendulkar, Viv Richards and Ricky Ponting.
The Taoiseach is the only son of Dr Ashok Varadkar, a GP from Mumbai in western India who moved to the Dublin suburb of Castleknock, “for whom cricket is almost a religion”.
As a freshly minted minister in a new Fine Gael-led Government, Mr Varadkar was the obvious choice to front the 2011 St Patrick’s Day mission to India.
From the moment he touched down in New Delhi on the mission, every politician, journalist and civil servant he met seemed to want to talk to him about the Irish cricket team.
Just a few weeks earlier, Ireland had chased down a massive England innings total. The spectacular defeat of England had raised Ireland’s profile in the sub-continent.
And while he never matched his father’s passion for the sport, Mr Varadkar was somewhat star struck when he met Mr Gavaskar.
He had been brought to an Ireland versus Holland match in Calcutta’s Eden Park.
The long game did not seem to hold his attention but when he heard Mr Gavaskar was in the commentary box he was delighted and insisted on having a photograph taken with the batsman to bring home to his father.
On his return to Dublin from India, Mr Varadkar hosted a reception for the Irish cricket team at Farmleigh Estate.
“I probably am one of the few people in the Cabinet who actually knows quite a lot about cricket. I even know the rules, or should I say the laws,” he said that day.