April 23, 2007

Ireland

Ireland plan to build on their success

Martin Williamson

Buoyed by their success in the World Cup, Ireland are preparing to ask the ICC for financial help to take the game forward.

Ireland beat Pakistan to reach the Super Eights, and added a victory over another Test side - Bangladesh - to their list of victims in the second round. Now Warren Deutrom, the Irish Cricket Union's CEO, has said he will be looking to the ICC for support.

The top six Associates - including Ireland - receive an annual High Performance grant of around £125,000 from the ICC as well as the same allowance of £70,000 paid to all Associate members. That aside, all money to run the sport has to come from sponsors and other fund-raising events.

"I shall certainly not be backward in asking ICC in what ways it might assist in ensuring that Ireland's performance curve improves consistently over the next few years," Deutrom told Reuters. "This would be in the same way the ICC pumped in significant funding to both the USA and Kenya to move forward. After all, it's what the HPP is for."

After the 2003 World Cup, Kenya, who reached the semi-finals, were fast-tracked by the ICC and given considerable additional financial backing. But that money was almost all squandered as the country's cricket administration descended into chaos. And Project USA, the ICC's initiative to boost the game in the US, was scrapped after rows over governance with the country's board. The ICC is likely to be very cautious about making the same mistake again.

"My goal is to create a small team of professionals focused on the commercial and administrative side that can ensure we have a firm foundation for all areas of the game in Ireland," explained Deurtrom, a former events manager for the ICC. "That's all that any administration should be about ... providing the best possible environment for the game of cricket to thrive."

Ireland have high-profile ODIs against India and South Africa at Stormont later this year, and they hope to attract other major countries. That will give the ICU a chance to exploit the lucrative broadcast market. "There is no doubt that developing a broadcast partnership is the key to a secure long-term future finance and profile for the sport in Ireland," Deutrom said. "In terms of properties, there are domestic internationals and the possibility of creating new properties attractive to television. I will certainly be keen to cultivate relationships with the heads of sport at all of the broadcasters in Ireland and with overseas broadcasters that might have a footprint in Ireland.

"I have to say, though, our achievements in the 2007 World Cup have somewhat accelerated the timetable."

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Martin Williamson is executive editor of ESPNcricinfo and managing editor of ESPN Digital Media in Europe, the Middle East and Africa

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Posted by Matt.J on (April 27, 2007, 4:13 GMT)

Like Kenya in 2003, Ireland really impressed me. Hopefully the ICU and the ICC can work something out.

Posted by Steven Davies-Morris on (April 24, 2007, 2:59 GMT)

This is excellent news. Go for the gold, Ireland! The time is ripe for Irish cricket to shift gears and move forward. Getting money into the game -- sponsorship, TV, etc., is crucial if a professional structure (or at least semi-pro for now) is to be put into place. Presumably such a structure would be built around the provinces, fed by the top echelon clubs.

Thinking even more radically, maybe -- if Scotland can be persuaded to play ball -- there'd be enough "provinces" to make a fist at a non-English county 1st class game in a few years. Or at least deploy "provincial" sides strong enough to get help from the ICC and the ECB to play in the English county game, starting in the lower tier. Which would then set the platform and create a timetable for test cricket with a bit of luck.

All of which is thinking off the top of my head, but who'd have even thought last year, when Ireland played its first official ODI against England, that such a prospect would even be more than a pipedream over several glasses of something strong?!?

Erin go bragh!

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Martin Williamson
Executive editor Martin Williamson joined the Wisden website in its planning stages in 2001 after failing to make his millions in the internet boom when managing editor of Sportal. Before that he was in charge of Sky Sports Online and helped launch and run Sky News Online. With a preference for all things old (except his wife and children), he has recently confounded colleagues by displaying an uncharacteristic fondness for Twenty20 cricket. His enthusiasm for the game is sadly not matched by his ability, but he remains convinced that he might be a late developer and perseveres in the hope of an England call-up with his middle-order batting and non-spinning offbreaks. He is now managing editor of ESPN EMEA Digital Group as well as his Cricinfo responsibilities.

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