Party on, Garth: Aussie Kim's move bittersweet for Mott
Former Ireland assistant coach discusses Kim Garth’s move to Australia and what it means for the global game
25 June 2020, 03:57 PM AEST
World Cup winning coach Matthew Mott hopes Kim Garth's decision to turn her back on Ireland and play professionally in Australia will convince Irish cricket to invest more into their leading players.
Garth, 24, this week announced she had accepted a professional contract with Victoria, meaning she will no longer play for Ireland, where she was being paid part-time.
She plans to become an Australian resident and qualify to represent her adopted country.
The allrounder, who debuted for Ireland at the age of just 14 and has played 85 times at international level, follows the likes of England's World Cup winning skipper Eoin Morgan and Ireland's current women's coach, Ed Joyce, in choosing greater opportunities abroad over the chance to play for Ireland.
Mott has a unique perspective on Garth's decision having previously worked as an assistant coach with the Ireland men's side before taking charge of Australia.
He welcomed Garth into the Australian system and doesn't begrudge her the chance play professionally, but he said the move is a blow to the game in her homeland.
"I am disappointed for Irish cricket," he said, adding he hadn't spoken to Garth about her decision.
"Having coached there myself, I know how difficult it is to hold onto good players.
"But she’s got to do the best thing by her, and I think it'll be really interesting to see how far she can take her cricket.
"It's the best for her cricket at the moment and you've got to back that decision. It's a really gutsy decision to go to the other side of the world and try and follow your dream.
"Maybe this is a good thing for Irish cricket. It might help fast track their professionalisation.
"They surely don't want to be losing good players and I know that's happened in the men’s game. A number of the best Irish players were going to play for England, and one has ended up captaining England.
"I think they've certainly improved in that area ... and this will be something they will use to go back to their board and hopefully push harder for that professionalisation.
"But it’s not an easy task. They're building momentum and they need to be playing against good teams and getting better all the time. It's difficult."
Mott remains a passionate advocate of Irish cricket and earlier this year, he and skipper Meg Lanning held a virtual batting masterclass with the Ireland women's team online.
"They just love their cricket and that's the thing that struck me during my time with the Irish team, just how passionate they are about the game," he said. "We just want to see them do well.
"The ICC are definitely trying to champion some of the developing countries to be stronger and that's something all the big nations need to be aware of.
"We want a global game and where we can help out those developing countries ... it's a really important thing."
Garth is no stranger to Australian cricket having played for both Sydney Sixers and Perth Scorchers in the Rebel WBBL and she currently lives in Melbourne's outer suburbs.
International Cricket Council regulations state a player must have a primary residence in the relevant country for three years before they can qualify to represent that country.
Garth said playing for Australia is not on her "immediate radar" but added she would love to return to the international stage one day.
"If I have a couple of good seasons, if an opportunity presents, it's not something I'd turn down," she said.
"Unfortunately, it does mean I won't be playing for Ireland in the foreseeable future. The rationale was, I want to play cricket full-time for a living and unfortunately that was something I couldn't really do with a part-time contract back home.
"While I have accepted the offer, it was not an easy decision. To leave family, friends and the whole Irish cricket community was a very difficult decision and one I did not take lightly."
Mott said he would track Garth's progress and if her performances demand it, consider her for Australian selection once she is eligible.
"She’s a genuinely good cricketer," he said.
"If she comes over and does well, our selectors have shown that they'll reward performance and she's got the opportunities that everyone else has."
Joyce, who played 19 times for England as well as 78 for Ireland, said he understood Garth's decision to chase her dream of playing professionally.
"The reality is that it will take a few years for us to be in a position to offer our women cricketers full-time opportunities," he said.
"We're on that road, like we did with the men's contracts, but I am optimistic we will get there with patience and commitment.
"To lose one of your leading players anytime is a challenge, but I can understand Kim's decision-making and she has been quite open with her ambitions."