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Ireland in hot pursuit of Full Member status

Alex Brown

November 3, 2009

Comments: 48 | Text size: A | A

Trent Johnston celebrates a wicket, Ireland v England, only ODI, Stormont, August 27, 2009
Ireland: Eyeing the jump? © Getty Images
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Ireland have announced an ambitious plan to ascend to Full Member status within the ICC. The Irish will seek to become the ICC's eleventh Full Member nation, and the first to rise from the Associate ranks since Bangladesh in 2000.

Warren Deutrom, Cricket Ireland's chief executive, has sent a letter to the ICC stating his board's intention to apply for Full Membership - a potential pathway to Test cricket - and to seek clarification on the process. The ICC have since informed Ireland of the council's criteria and expectations, and the matter will now be discussed at the next chief executives' meeting, scheduled for later this month.

"There's a long way to go," Deutrom told Cricinfo's Switch Hit podcast. "Traditionally, applications have taken two, three or more years. There are clearly a large number of hoops we have to jump through. In terms of challenges that are facing us, yes, there is clearly an awful lot of work we need to do just to fulfill the compliance and existing criteria.

"It perhaps sets in motion a process that allows others to see the levels they need to reach in order to fulfill the same ambitions. It shouldn't be easy. Test cricket is regarded as the pinnacle of the game and it's quite right that those trying to ascend to Test cricket, or just Full Membership without necessarily involving Test cricket, have to ensure that they are coming up to some pretty rigorous criteria."

Ireland's cricketers have mounted a strong case for consideration as a Full Member nation with a string of solid performances in the four-day, 50 and 20-over formats, but still face a difficult task convincing existing members of the political and commercial benefits that their elevation would bring to the game. Unlike Bangladesh, the most recently-elected Full Member, Ireland does not boast a large population and player base to draw from. Bangladesh also provided India and its allies with another regional partner - and vote - at the ICC table. Ireland's introduction could potentially upset that balance.

The difficulties encountered by Ireland's cricketing administrators were highlighted earlier this year when a television rights package could not be negotiated for the home ODI against an England side less than a week removed from winning the Ashes. Attendances for other international matches have been modest, as cricket struggles to gain a foothold in a nation already absorbed by Gaelic football, hurling, football and rugby. Despite such obstacles, Cricket Ireland has evolved commercially to the point that ICC funding only accounts for 30% of the board's total revenue.

If the ICC is serious about its long-espoused aim of expanding the game beyond its traditional strongholds, Ireland might be in with a chance. Full Member funding would better equip Ireland to retain its top players - the defections of Ed Joyce and Eoin Morgan to England were evidence of Associate cricket's glass ceiling - and offer a progression path for other aspiring nations to follow.

"In terms of television, there is no doubt whatsoever that that was an issue last year," Deutrom said. "We had television for our game in 2006 when Ireland played England and in 2007 when India and South Africa were here. We didn't get a broadcaster for 2009. I think there were some financial problems involved in that. I think the problem by and large, from what broadcasters say to me, is that they don't like to do deals on a one-by-one basis. They prefer to package things up. If we were in a situation whereby we were embedded in the Future Tours Programme, then we would have sufficient home cricket to be able to go out and talk to another broadcaster.

"From a political perspective, I would regard many people on the chief executives' committee and the board as extremely fair-minded. I hope this doesn't come across sounding naive, but I think the decision should hopefully be made on its merits and not on the basis of any political alliances."

Ireland's recent performances have raised hopes that they could prove competitive at the game's elite level. In 41 one-day internationals since 2006, the Irish have won 17 matches, highlighted by their three-wicket triumph over Pakistan at the 2007 World Cup. Ireland won eight consecutive completed matches against Scotland, Kenya and Canada before suffering a narrow three-run defeat to England in their most recent ODI. That sequence included victory in the World Cup qualification tournament in South Africa earlier this year, which they capped with an emphatic nine-wicket demolition of Canada in the final.

Ireland have proven similarly competitive in the 20-over ranks, winning four of their eight completed matches including a six-wicket victory over Bangladesh at the World Twenty20 in June that propelled them into the Super Eights stage of the tournament. They are currently vying for their fourth consecutive Intercontinental Cup crown, and remain unbeaten in four-day competition since 2004.

"The key area where we see the strength of our proposal would be the performance on field of the senior men's squad over the last couple of years," Deutrom said. "In all three forms of the game we've proven ourselves above our associate rivals.

"If you think about the reasons why (players) are going (to England), it's because they want to be as good as they can be. They want to be able to find the vehicles and the forums to be able to express their abilities. In that way, we need to make sure that our players are aware of our ambitions. If we just happen to bump along as an associate and say, 'We're the No.1 associate now, that's all we're going to be forever,' I think we're going to lose more and more players. Our ambitions are surely to make sure that cricket is as successful as possible in Ireland ... and to that extent we need to make sure that our players are aware that that is exactly where we're going.

"Even if it's obviously too late for the likes of Eoin Morgan and Ed Joyce, what we're saying to the next rung of Irish players coming through is: we are ambitious, we are interested in going for Full Membership but it may take some time, and we are doing our very best to put in a contract system that allows you to consider playing cricket as a career in Ireland in the same way as you might want to play cricket for England and to complement your county career."

Alex Brown is deputy editor of Cricinfo

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by NSUrockr on (November 9, 2009, 20:30 GMT)

NielCamron didnt get ur opinion on Irelands Test status application.Teams like SriLanka, Zimbabwe have all proved how wrong England were in opposing them at a time. True Bangladesh havent done well.But they've just whitewashed the Windies. Bangladesh have almost beaten Pakistan, Australia or South Africa in Test matches but they actually didnt cut it.....The reality is that Bangladesh had to learn how to play more than a 1 day length game by playing Tests. But U have to admit that Bangladesh Cricket has improved because of this. Teams like Kenya or Zimbabwe are way behind Bd in ODI ratings and within a year or two they will surpass the Windies.Personally I have sympathy for Ireland in Test Cricket. But regradless of their being champions of asociats for 10 years or not they will still perform as badly as Bd did for the first 10 years. Whethr ur Irish or not u cannot beg for test status by insultin anothr country. theyl be losing by innings margins gainst lowly Bd and Zim for 5 +yrs

Posted by tfjones1978 on (November 9, 2009, 15:32 GMT)

Idea that Bang should be removed/Irel not given test status because they will loose matches is silly. If you remove Bang & Zimb, people will complain that WI loose too many games. Remove WI & then it will be NZ, then Pak & so on. Also the notion of numbers for numbers is silly also. All players have the right to represent their country, if they dont get a chance in their country they will go elsewhere. Why have a sport where only 10% of playing countries (& 5% of countries in the world) have the right to play the ultimate version of the game? There are many things wrong with the ICC organisation of Cricket, like: * Prom teams, but never demote (Is Bang&Zimb actually better 4-5day teams then Assocs/just more exp?) * Political decisions instead of performance (prom Bang, not Kenya! Drop Zimb in 2004+ & SA in 1971-1991) * Competition with no end (finals anyone?) * 3 tiers (Test,ICup IShield) but no prom/releg * Focus on stats not improving (players care?) * Poach from Assocs but not full

Posted by sajal123 on (November 9, 2009, 4:01 GMT)

I think its not fair to compare ireland with bangladesh at this stage,since bangladesh has a strong cricket infrastructure and plenty of talented players it will emerge a cricket superpower within a short period of time undoubtably if we notice their their grassroots level its very high stnadard especialliy their under 19 team check their last three years tremendous good performance against all test playing country under 19 and full talented young boys. The national team has player like Shakib al Hasan who is currently number one allrounder and wisden best test player also,tamim iqbal,mashrafe mortaza,ashraful,mahmudullah riyad,mushfiq rahim all these guys are talented. So why they are able to achieve this because they were given chance so please give the chance to ireland also if they are fit from all other aspects as well. additionaly like itzanurag suggested if Icc do intoduce relegation system ofcourse bangladesh willl be the first to climb in first raw keeping behind zim,ire,ken.

Posted by NeilCameron on (November 5, 2009, 10:10 GMT)

Bangladesh should be stripped of full member status. Their results since 2000 have been pathetic and they have not developed into a successful side. Of course new Test sides always struggle in the early days, but Bangladesh has been particularly and unusually unsuccessful. They cannot be compared to the first ten years of Pakistan, Sri Lanka or even Zimbabwe.

Posted by redneck on (November 5, 2009, 3:24 GMT)

i agree with what people are saying, it would be nice to have more than just the 8 main test teams playing against eachother. but having said that numbers for the sake of numbers isnt worht it. it will just mean more one sided matches and tests only lasting 3 days! bangledesh fans here are hanging their hat on why their team still deserves full membership based on their side beating australia in a solitary ODI back in 05! and on beating a caribean XI that were not test standard! this doesnt mean anything!!!!! prehaps bangledesh, ireland and zimbabwe could play a test tri series with the winner getting full membership. test cricket certainly cant have all 3 aspiring nations based on their current standards it would dilute the quality of cricket and devalue test cricket as a product!

Posted by bombers2008 on (November 4, 2009, 23:45 GMT)

well done to the irish for wanting to play test cricket. For years they have popped up every now and then with surprise results, and having many years of experience in the sunday league in england obviously helped. Remember when they beat Middlesex in 1996, but they are like New Zealand in a way, where they are England's poor cousin, just like Australia bullied the Kiwis for years, not treating them seriously. Might be a good idea for the Scottish Cricket Association to try the same and get into the longer game. Have noticed that Bangladesh are slowly improving, albeit against weak west indian and Zimbabwe teams. Still, i don't think the Irish are that pathetic, speed up the process, get them playing test cricket and they just might surprise a lot a people.

Posted by andrew101notout on (November 4, 2009, 20:33 GMT)

Im irish and a cricket lover and i think we should be a test team.The players deserve test cricket and the funding would be nice.Bangladesh deserve to be a test team.

Posted by Daiya on (November 4, 2009, 19:58 GMT)

Why does the ICC not have a promotion-demotion system for the full member teams? For example if a team has been at the bottom of the group for a conistant period of time say 1 year or 2 years, they should be moved down and the team that has been consistantly on top say for 1 year or 2 years should be moved up to test level. Again if this team manages to survive and fight for a better ranking than the bottom another team would be at the bottom of the table which would be moved down to Associate ranking. The team that was demoted then has the ability to play the associate nations and re-claim their position as a full member. This would give the associate members something to play for. This could also help those countries to develop individual players who may be brilliant and good for the game.

Posted by JimDavis on (November 4, 2009, 19:56 GMT)

Perfect opportunity for the ICC to restructure their full membership approach by bringing Ireland in. Get ride of the "must play everyone" rule. Change it to "must play x number of sides closest to you in the ranking (based on some D/L method)within a set period". Make playing the rest optional. Make all test series minimum 4 tests, all ODI series max 5 and all T20 series max 5.

Posted by Andrew86 on (November 4, 2009, 19:16 GMT)

First of all, many congratulation to Ireland for their recent success in T20 world cup followed by the last Cricket World Cup 2007 in West Indies. Being a professional Cricket player I got to watch some of their recent ODI's in different competitions and I was absolutely fascinated by their performance, especially their approaches. Having said that in my opinion, ICC do need to ensure they have the following realistic ability along with all other basic requirements (exposure e.t.c) before Ireland are given full membership:

1. Enough international quality player to replace player like T. Johnston, Nail O'brien e.t.c (in terms of their retirement) to keep up with their current performance. 2. Up to date domestic infrastructure to be able to produce world class standard player in continuous basis. 3. Having Kenya in mind about 10 years ago,making sure Irish Cricket is not always going to be based on migrant Irish and lot of Irish people gets into Cricket and wants to play for Ireland.

Is it time the ICC widened the net ... and are Ireland ready?
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