Ireland to tackle England
In addition to 2009's county fixtures, the ECB also announced that England will meet Ireland in Belfast on August 27.
England first played, and defeated, Ireland in Stormont in 2006, followed by a group match in the 2007 World Cup. Their game on August 27 represents a final warm-up before the first Twenty20 against Australia which precedes seven one-dayers and, in what is a high-profile week for British Associates, Australia take on Scotland the following day.
Ireland's captain William Porterfield was understandably excited. "Obviously it's great to be given the opportunity to test ourselves against some of the best players in the world again," he said. "It's a fixture that all the lads are really looking forward to after the announcement of the game earlier this year. The last time England came to Stormont there was a massive turnout, and hopefully August will be no different, and we hope to put on a real show for them."
The Ireland coach, Phil Simmons, called the contest "almost like a local derby" but remained cautious about Ireland's chances.
"It's another chance for the players to showcase their talents, and hopefully by playing good cricket, we'll get the fans to come and back us not only in this game, but in all our fixtures," he said. "It's fantastic for the players and fans to see some of the real superstars in world cricket playing in Ireland. It'll be a tough test facing players of the calibre of Kevin Pietersen and Andrew Flintoff, but as we've shown in the past, we have players who are capable of responding positively to that challenge."
Will Luke is assistant editor of ESPNcricinfo