Ireland set to snub ECB's 40-over plans?
There remains uncertainty about which three sides will make up the numbers in the ECB’s new-old40-over tournament in 2010. While Scotland are sure to be there, pending a formal announcement from the rather secretive England board, and rumours abound the Netherlands have also been offered a place, it seems increasingly likely that Ireland will turn down the chance.
While there is no certainty the Netherlands would accept either – although for them not to do so after so many years of pushing for a place would be rather odd – Ireland are increasingly uneasy with entry to a 40-over tournament when the bulk of their cricket – at least their cricket that matters – is over 50 overs. Their other worry is the increasingly packed international schedule and how another 12 matches would fit in with that. With games at weekends, it would mean ODIs and Intercontinental Cup matches, for example, would be shoved to midweek slots.
Any answer is likely in the next few weeks. If Ireland say no, it makes the Netherlands’ participation even more important for the ECB. It is already facing the need to find an extra team – a Minor Counties XI or a British Universities XI are the favourites – but to find two fillers would leave the competition looking rather desperate before it had even got off the drawing board.
Martin Williamson is executive editor of ESPNcricinfo and managing editor of ESPN Digital Media in Europe, the Middle East and Africa