Ire­land ‘must fo­cus on white ball’ be­fore their Test bow

The Cricket Paper - - FEATURE - By Richard Ed­wards

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

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