Ireland would get access to much better fixtures and much greater funding
By Phil Rice
Ironically after a disappointing 2016 in the field, Irish Cricket was given a momentous boost last weekend when theInternational Cricket Council(ICC), meeting in Dubai, suggested that Ireland and Afghanistan should be permitted to play test cricket. This proposal is expected to be ratified this June, opening the door for Ireland to regularly play against the 10 established test nations.
A further proposal was discussed which appears likely to be approved that the two nations will actually be accepted as full members, granting them full Test status. This would bring the number of test playing nations to 12. It would also give Ireland access to much better fixtures and much greater funding.
International Cricket has been struggling with constitutional and finance issues of late but the ICC revealed proposals that could open the door to additional full members, specifically mentioning Ireland and Afghanistan.
There will be certain criteria with which both nations will need to comply, but a new membership committee will be set up to assist the two countries in meeting these requirements. Naturally these latest developments have met with joy in Irish cricket circles.
Cricket Ireland CEO Warren Deutrom said: “I don’t want to remotely give the impression that we regard fulfilment of the Full Member criteria or approval of the membership as a penalty kick – but I might have a small glass of wine to satisfy my cautiously optimistic self.”
The ICC Chairman Shashank Manohar said, “Today was an important step forward for the future of the ICC and cricket around the world. I want the ICC to be reasonable and fair in our approach to all 105 members, and the revised constitution and financial model does that. There are still details to work through and concerns to be addressed, but the principle of change is agreed and not for debate. There was a strong desire from the ICC Board to work together for the betterment of cricket.”
India and Sri Lanka voted against the new measures, complaining they did not have enough time to study them, while Zimbabwe abstained.
Several changes in the structure of international cricket were agreed for presentation to the board’s next meeting in April, including a two-year cycle test league for the top nine, with Zimbabwe and the two new members “guaranteed a consistent and confirmed schedule of Test matches against all other teams.”
There will also be a 13-team One Day International(ODI) league and regional qualifying for the biennial World T20 competition. In recent years Ireland have competed in the ODI World Cup and World T20 Cup. In both competitions they have competed well, notably claiming the scalps of Pakistan and England.
The infrastructure of cricket in Ireland has been gradually building during recent times, with an increasing number of schools taking part in provincial cup competitions.
Historically if Irish cricketers wanted to play on the test stage they have opted to play for England. Notably England’s current ODI captain is Dubliner Eoin Morgan.
Boyd Rankin also played for England before returning to play for Ireland last year. Several other Irish players currently play within the English county cricket circuit. If Ireland gains Test status these players could play at the highest level without deserting the Irish cricketing fold.
It would give the sport in Ireland a tremendous boost and the international investment would help provide facilities for greater participation throughout the country.