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Cricket Ireland has declined the ECB's invitation to join the new English domestic 40-over one-day competition in 2010. The ECB has ditched 50-over cricket in favour of a shorter format, but Ireland feel their development will be better served by concentrating on the international version.
"Notwithstanding any possible changes to its format down the line, international cricket is our bread and butter and the means by which we are measured on the global stage," Warren Deutrom, the Cricket Ireland chief executive, said. "Therefore, we felt that we needed to focus our limited financial resources on preparing for our international programme."
Ireland's developing reputation on the international stage - they reached the Super Eights of the World Twenty20 in June and the same stage of the 2007 World Cup - also means they are forging their own fixture list ahead of the 2011 World Cup.
"We are very lucky to have England as the Full Member in our region. They have been nothing but incredibly generous with the opportunities they have afforded Ireland at all levels, both within the domestic competition and at full senior level," Deutrom said. "That generosity is now beginning to pay off, and we are starting to take the stabilisers off the bike and stand on our own two feet as a country that has an improving record of achievement against some of the best teams in the world."
Despite declining the 40-over offer they are confident of getting more three-day fixtures with county 2nd XIs and an increased programme of A-team cricket. Their schedule also includes an Under-19 World Cup, ICC World Twenty20 qualifiers, World Cricket League plus the Intercontinental Cup.
Ireland's coach, Phil Simmons said: "Our international fixture calendar has become very comprehensive, and, assuming we get what we think we will get fixture-wise and we continue to qualify for events and their latter stages like the last couple of years, we may have between 40-50 international fixtures in 2010. Leading up to the 2011 World Cup in the sub-continent, I want to focus on primarily the 15 or 16 players who will represent us there, and I feel that the 12 additional games would be a step too far for the guys.
"We'll also be playing in the Under-19 World Cup in January in New Zealand, and it's my intention for a substantial number of that squad to form the basis of the A team. That's not forgetting about the World Cricket League and possible European Championships, you can see they too will have no shortage of cricket.
"The Friends Provident Trophy used to serve us well timing-wise in terms of preparing the players for the international summer. However, given our success and expansion, we are now playing more and more cricket out of season. It's approaching an all-year-round game for Irish cricket, therefore the timing doesn't work as well as in past years."
Netherlands will take Ireland's place in the 21-team 40-over tournament alongside Scotland and an ECB Recreational XI and the board said they would continue to support Irish cricket. "We are pleased that we have supported Ireland in becoming a high performance country within the ICC Associate group," David Collier, the ECB chief executive, said. "Given the heavy expansion of cricket at international level for this group we can understand why Ireland have focused their resources on international events.
"The ECB, as the Full Member within Europe, continues to support European Associates and Affiliates, and we continue to have an excellent relationship with Ireland. The Irish women participate in our Women's County Championship while we have an agreement in place to play ODIs in alternate years, and this remains the case as part of a broad agreement with Ireland."
Martin Williamson is executive editor of ESPNcricinfo and managing editor of ESPN Digital Media in Europe, the Middle East and AfricaFeeds: Martin Williamson
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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.