Rankin and O'Brien out of Ireland's control
Warren Deutrom, the ICU chief executive, has spoken to both players but said details are still rather sketchy. "We are still not quite sure of the full picture," he told Cricinfo, "but the players aren't contracted by us. However, we are keen for them to be careful about taking part in unsanctioned tournaments.
"The key issue for us [the ICU] is that the players are available for Ireland matches and any build-up that goes with them. We are especially focussed on the 12-18 month build-up period to the 2009 World Cup qualifiers."
Ireland don't have any scheduled cricket until April 2008 and even that depends on them continuing in the Friends Provident Trophy. Deutrom is due to have meetings with David Collier, the ECB chief executive, to discuss future plans between the two boards, which includes the possibility of England visiting Ireland in 2010 and being embedded in the schedules of future touring teams to England.
This year India played matches against South Africa and Ireland in Belfast before their current England tour, but these additional games have to be arranged by Ireland themselves as there is no provision for them in the future tours programme.
However, Deutrom is hopeful of arranging a pre-season tour for the Ireland squad with Bangladesh and West Indies shaping as early candidates. "There are a few Caribbean islands that have shown an interest," he said. "They saw the fairly deep pockets of Irish fans during the World Cup and are keen to have us back. There is also the chance of some counties being out there, too.
Bangladesh, though, would offer development opportunities that would fit well with ICC plans. "There might be a chance for some matches involving their U-19, A side or the full team, but it's all at a very early stage. Our main focus early next year will be the Under-19 World Cup in Malaysia and how to make the most of that."
Andrew McGlashan is a staff writer on Cricinfo