June 18, 2012

Ireland

Why Ireland deserve Test status

Martin Jones
Paul Stirling celebrates the dismissal of the debutant Ben Stokes, Ireland v England, only ODI, Clontarf, August 25, 2011
Ireland have lost just three times in previous three years to non-Test playing nations  © Getty Images
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This is a question that has been floating around for several years: should Ireland be given Test status? There are no guaranteed parameters for Test status. South Africa's first Tests were not assigned as such until many years after they were played. Bangladesh gained Test status after only three ODI wins - two against sides that did not play Test cricket. The fact that they had lost 27 matches against Test nations before the last of those three wins did not matter, and nor apparently did the fact that they lost their next 45 completed matches until a solitary win by eight runs against Zimbabwe, 18 years on from their inaugural appearance.

Ireland have played 33 completed ODIs against Test-quality opposition so far, won five of them and tied one. At the same stage in their development, Zimbabwe had won two and tied one, so Ireland have outperformed the two most recently promoted teams.

In the last three years they have been defeated just three times in ODIs by their fellow Associates and Affiliates, and are well ahead of the chasing pack. In the longer form of the game, Ireland have been consistently bagging solid results, despite the fact that they often have to do without their stronger players who are on county duty. Clearly, the quality of the cricketers being produced by the emerald isle is not a problem.

The next argument against Ireland's elevation is lack of suitable stadia. Ireland currently host their home matches at Stormont in Belfast and Clontarf in Dublin. Both stadia boast a capacity of over 5,000 spectators for internationals, but the jewel in the crown is currently under construction in Malahide. The new stadium, fondly named 'The Village', is planned to have a capacity of over 10,000 and will be ready to host England as soon as September next year. Once The Village has been completed, Ireland will be able to spread their fixtures between three top quality venues.

Finally, and most significantly, Ireland has no domestic first-class structure in place. This is both easily remedied and easily overlooked. Ireland's chief executive, Warren Deutrom has outlined a plan to establish a provincial first-class structure, although the plans are currently embryonic. A quicker plan to implement might be to establish three Irish teams, and to invite the Dutch and Scottish A teams to bolster numbers. Ireland would then be able to implement a five-team domestic structure along the lines of the one in Zimbabwe. It should also be noted that Bangladesh received their Test status before their first-class competition was properly established. Only in the season following their first Test match, did the National Cricket League become a first-class competition.

All of these plans could be implemented as soon as next year, with the completion of the Malahide stadium. If the Irish team gets the dozen ODIs they want to play against Full Members, then they can build up to Test status, which could be granted in 2013 or 2014, and would reward the hard work and firm organisation shown by Cricket Ireland since they burst onto the scene in 2007.

And if they take time to find their feet, stick with them. Every team in history has struggled with the step up to Test cricket.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by Pankaj on (June 26, 2012, 6:00 GMT)

ICC looks at revenue potentials n not spreading the game or something. Bangladesh for all thats worth it, generates revenue with packed stadiums and had the backing of sub-continent neighbors and a powerhouse BCCI. Who's gonna vouch for the Irish? Sad cos clearly without a FC structure, they still are better than Bangladesh or Zim even for that matter.

Posted by Mick Jones on (June 25, 2012, 15:39 GMT)

Interesting comments. As a CI fan I'm delighted to see the majority of comments are in favour of the 'step-up' for Ireland. Some of us have been saying for a while that Ireland should 'warm-up' the test sides visiting Eng. Personally I favour Tom's idea of a 'candidate' or maybe 'junior' 'provisional' status - whatever name would be most acceptable to the ICC :) This would reward the fantastic progress that's already been made, but also give Ireland and the rest of the world a chance to see whether our lads could really cut it at that level. We are in no doubt about that, a chance to prove it is all we ask.

Posted by kiran on (June 25, 2012, 14:50 GMT)

Ireland is a good team.They should get a chance to play test and regular ODI's...I think Ireland can still upset some good test playing countries on their day...Before giving them test status they should given a chance to play more frequent odi's

Posted by Mick on (June 25, 2012, 14:47 GMT)

I agree that Ireland should be granted test status, but as Praveen Pillay mentioned, the ICC need introduce a 2 tier system to address the current imbalance we see in test cricket. Australia, England, South Africa, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka should be entered into division 1. New Zealand, West Indies, Bangladesh, Zimbabwe, Ireland & Afghanistan should enter division 2. In this format each nation would play a home & away series against the other 5 nations in their division over a 3 year period. This would then culminate in the bottom performed division 1 team playing against the best performed division 2 team in a promotion/relegation one off test for a place in the top tier for the next 3 year cycle. Something like this would surely add more excitement to the longer format of the game, which judging by worldwide crowd attendances, has been in decline for a number of years now.

Posted by ashish on (June 25, 2012, 8:51 GMT)

yes why not...if bangladesh can then anybody else can as well....ireland in the recent times have come so close to winning even against formidable opponents and are one of the better teams in the associate nations...if icc wants to make cricket popular then it has to promote one or two associate nations now and in the present lot there's no better team than ireland for that.

Posted by Anonymous on (June 25, 2012, 5:20 GMT)

and 10 years from now, every one will blame the ICC for giving them test status ... tests are struggling for survival, adding another team will only make the survival even more difficult ... with no first class structure in place now, i do not see how they can get test status in 2 years ... ICC blundered by giving BD test status and hope they do not make the same mistake .... ICC needs to take time out in the calendar to arrange unofficial tests between associates and test nations ... and if the ICC feels that wud be a useless/non profitable exercise, then i see no reason in adding test members ... until the test nations play some 5 day proper test matches against ireland and others, we will not be able to judge them ....

Posted by realthog in USA on (June 24, 2012, 22:56 GMT)

Hear, hear! Ireland's promotion is long overdue.

Posted by Arthur on (June 24, 2012, 18:34 GMT)

Good reasons , but we know the world we live in is unfair and cruel so Ireland will have to wait. Its baffling give bangladesh test status while Ireland dont.

Posted by Asiacricket1234 on (June 24, 2012, 18:01 GMT)

I believe Ireland should have test status but winning one or two ODI or T20 will not going to help them to achieve the Status. I think Ireland should play a 4day match against a test playing nation and if they can do well in that match it will give them a good platform. For example If Ireland arrange a test match against India on a fast bouncy pitch in England or Ireland they will defenately win that 4day match. To be honest if they bowl first on apitch like that considering India's test team quality outside India I think Ireland will be able to beat them even in 3days and it'll give them a great platform :D

Posted by Tom on (June 24, 2012, 16:21 GMT)

I'm in favour of Ireland getting Test status, but I don't think they're quite ready yet. We don't want another Bangladesh. Although Ireland have become a decent ODI team, Tests are a different kettle of fish. I'd like to see Ireland given "Test Candidate" status and a limited tour programme built in so that an Ireland XI is getting regular first class games against: perhaps by including some FC games in Ireland on any tours of England, and an Irish XI touring abroad during their season to play local teams and maybe an A-side. Work on a basis of, say, ten years, with the option to accelerate if they perform above expectations. That way, by the time Ireland do achieve Test status they will be a credible team capable of winning matches. It's also a way to build support and interest before they start playing the really big venues and having to draw a reasonable crowd (which will encourage other nations to host them).

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