Former Irish cricketer Kyle McCallan was this week inducted into Newtownabbey Council’s Sporting Hall of Fame.
A right-handed batsman and off-spin bowler, he has featured more times for Ireland than any other player and was one of the driving forces in the meteoric rise of Irish Cricket in the last number of years.
McCallan, who grew up in the Christine area and attended Ballyclare High School, won a record 226 caps for Ireland between 1996 and 2009, captaining the team on 54 occasions. In that time he took 256 wickets - a record only bettered by Dermott Monteith and Jimmy Boucher. He scored 3,616 runs, the third highest position on the all-time list, behind Stephen Warke and Ivan Anderson.
His debut came against Wales in Dublin, taking a wicket with his first delivery. He reached his first century in his next match, against the MCC in Malahide.
He starred at the 2007 World Cup where the team began the competition with a tie against Zimbabwe, before famously beating Pakistan. They qualified for the Super 8 stage of the tournament, defeated Bangladesh, and finished in eighth place overall.
McCallan announced his retirement from international cricket in December 2009.
Speaking at the Newtownabbey Sports Awards, he admitted the time was right for him to step off the international stage.
“There was a lot of things that happened in my life that made it very clear that the time was right to give up,” he said.
“You have to devote yourself to it in order to get anywhere and there were too many things that were distracting my attention from cricket, and I wanted to finish on top of my game.”
Asked to name his two enduring memories of his time around international scene, he replied: “Beating Pakistan was just a pinch yourself moment. Nobody gave us a snowball’s chance and we went out there and beat one of the pre-tournament favourites.
“The second one was the England game (2011 ICC World Cup) which I didn’t play in, but I had been asked to work with Sky Sports and I shared the studio with David Gower, Michael Vaughan and Bob Willis.
“As Kevin O’Brien (who scored 113 runs) started to knock the ball around Bangalore, they got a wee bit quieter and I got a bit more vocal!”
McCallan, a PE teacher at Grosvenor Grammar School, joins a Hall of Fame list which includes the late Alan McDonald, former Irish rugby international Denis McBride, bowls legend Jim Baker and cycling’s Morris Foster.