Ireland's Zimbabwe tour confirmed
Ireland's trip to Zimbabwe has been confirmed, and in addition to the Intercontinental Cup match against a Zimbabwe XI, three one-day internationals between the senior national teams have been arranged. All of the games will take place in Harare, with the four-day fixture starting on Monday September 20. The ODIs follow on September 26, 27 and 30.
Zimbabwe withdrew from Test cricket in 2006 and were subsequently admitted to the Intercontinental Cup on the understanding that their four home games would be played at neutral venues. But along with the relative political stability in the country, Zimbabwe Cricket has worked hard to improve its structures after divisive squabbling between players and administrators had wrecked cricket in the country.
There had been some speculation as to whether Ireland would make the trip at all, and for a time there had been a possibility that the Intercontinental Cup fixture would take place in South Africa. But both Kenya and Afghanistan recently played their Intercontinental Cup matches in Zimbabwe, who also hosted Sri Lanka and India in a one-day tri-series in June this year, so the pressure on Ireland to make the trip was always going to be immense. Now that their tour has been confirmed, it is almost certain that Scotland - who are scheduled to play Zimbabwe XI in the middle of October - will also make the trip.
The Zimbabwe XI are currently in third place behind Afghanistan and Scotland in the Intercontinental Cup, having drawn against Afghanistan and beaten Kenya, Netherlands and Canada. Ireland are fifth on the points table after draws against Scotland and Kenya and a loss to Afghanistan at Dambulla.