Karl McDermott took an unlikely route to one of the top jobs in world cricket having been appointed head groundsman at Lord’s.
The 43-year-old Irishman has begun a once-in-a-lifetime role, literally, after taking over from Mick Hunt who held the post for 49 distinguished years.
Yet as a youngster, McDermott was more interested in tennis and hockey and only a chance request from one of his teachers in Dublin set him on the path to the Home of Cricket.
“My maths teacher at school was the groundsman at my local cricket club, Clontarf. I didn’t play cricket, I knew nothing about it,” he explained.
“I was 14 and he was looking for a non-cricketer to give him a hand in the summer. I did it for a couple of hours a week, for five Irish pounds.
“And I sort of kept it up really, summer after summer, and the opportunity arose to step into his shoes when he’d had enough.
“Clontarf held C&G and NatWest Trophy matches so we always had one county over here pre-season. That gave me a bug for professional groundsmanship.
“We had a World Cup game in 1999, West Indies played Bangladesh, so that was probably to date my favourite moment of my career. And then to get into Test cricket was the challenge.”
McDermott spent 17 years at Clontarf before taking up a role at Hampshire in 2009, becoming head groundsman in 2016.
Three Test matches were held at the Ageas Bowl during that time, but the schedule at Lord’s is a little more hectic.
McDermott’s first season will encompass five World Cup matches, including the final, as well as the Ashes showdown with Australia.
But perhaps unsurprisingly it is the visit of Ireland, for a historic first Test match against England in July, which is uppermost in McDermott’s thoughts.
“The World Cup and the Ashes is brilliant but having Ireland here… how many times are Ireland going to play here again? It’s going to be a brilliant experience,” he added.
“Obviously I have a lot of friends and people coming over, and I’m getting texts saying ‘the masterplan is in place’ and things like that.
“Would I take an Ireland win or a good pitch? I’d take a good pitch, no doubt. Irrespective of the result the pitch is the main focus and the main goal for me.
“There’s no hesitation there – but I’d take a high-scoring Ireland win.”