Ireland ‘must focus on white ball’ before their Test bow
IRELAND have got themselves a ticket and are now waiting in line for a Test against England. For now, though, the Test cricket new boys are focusing on priority No.1 – qualifying for the 2019 World Cup.
Last week, it was announced that Ireland would play their first ever Test match against Pakistan in May 2018. The venue for that historic moment looks set to be confirmed this week, with Malahide favourite to host the match.
But with the current Future Tours Programme (FTP) running until the end of 2019, Warren Deutrom, the chief executive of Cricket Ireland, tells The Cricket Paper that he doesn’t envisage the country playing a huge number of Tests over the next two years. And a first Test against England still looks some way off.
“The Test structure and the ODI League doesn’t start until 2020 so the current FTP is effectively still in place,” says Deutrom. “One of the main drivers of the new structure was trying to create more space because it was already very congested. So considering that two new full members have been admitted to the mix, that has only made it more congested.
“Of all the nations who are busy, then England, India and Australia were the busiest because they’re the most successful and commercially attractive.We need to pull a ticket and stand in line.We understand that but I know that when opportunities present themselves there is an amiability towards us from those nations. When will that be? It’s too early to say.”
Regardless of when England and Ireland do meet, 2017 is already firmly established as a hugely significant one, not just for the ICC’s newest full members but for the global game at large.
After entering what has been an exclusive club since Australia, England and South Africa became the first three full Test nations in 1909, Ireland are determined to make an impact.
And key to that happening is ensuring that the country qualify for the 2019 World Cup in Ireland.
“That’s our major immediate focus,” says Deutrom. “We have the qualifying tournament in Zimbabwe in March and the first quarter of next year is going to be focused on ensuring we have adequate preparation for that.
“That may well even start before the end of this year, we’re working on some (ODI) fixtures for the squad but we’re not in a position to announce those just yet.We just need to have as much white-ball 50-over cricket against quality opposition before then.
“For us white-ball cricket is still the priority but having said that, having chased for so long to get to this level, it would be equally ridiculous if we turned around and said, ‘it’s great that we’ve got it but we’re going to keep it as an in-principal privilege’.
“Clearly for us, playing Tests is going to be very, very important but we have to make sure that there’s a balance.”
Balancing act: Irish cricket CEO Warren Deutrom