Ireland could play 15 ODIs a year against Full Members
Ireland, who have been controversially excluded from the next World Cup, could still play up to 15 one-day internationals against Full Members each year between now and 2015. Cricket Ireland chairman David Williams, who visited India last week and met with BCCI chairman Shashank Manohar, confirmed that he had received support from several of the ICC's Full Members willing to accommodate Ireland.
"One of our ambitions is to increase our ODI exposure against full members to between 10 to 15 per annum, and we received some support from Full Members to accommodate us," Williams said. "There is, without question, among all the Full Members chairmen I spoke to, considered to be very clear water between us and the rest of the Associates."
Both South Africa and Bangladesh reportedly lent support to Ireland's push for more games against Full Members, but chances of a bilateral series against world champions India remain slim, and Zimbabwe have withdrawn an invitation for a repeat of Ireland's trip to the country in September last year. Zimbabwe cited the lack of a gap in their programme due to playing commitments as the reason for the cancellation, although the ICC's Future Tours Programme does show that they have no international cricket scheduled between the end of October and the beginning of December.
"We had hoped to play a four-day game - an unofficial Test match - against Zimbabwe and three ODIs. That would have been a very nice tour. But that tour will not take place," Williams confirmed.
However, Ozias Bvute, ZC's managing director, insisted that Zimbabwe's priority in that period was their domestic programme, rather than furthering their international commitments.
"We have taken a deliberate decision to try and ensure that all our players turn out for the respective franchises, we have thus tried to separate our international calendar with our domestic fixturing on that basis," Bvute told ESPNcricinfo. "Our strategy moving forward is to grow our domestic cricket to a point where in itself it becomes financially viable and sustainable. To attract the crowds and sponsors we need all our players in attendance."
Williams, who was re-elected as chairman for a fourth year at Cricket Ireland's annual meeting, had travelled to India with the intention of securing a qualifying tournament for the next World Cup, ensuring a promotion and relegation system in ODI leagues and canvassing for support for more ODIs for Ireland. "I didn't get the first, but the second was delivered and I am hopeful that the last will happen," he said.
"Mr Manohar was charming, as expected, but he said he felt the Full Members did not have time to adjust to a qualifying tournament for the 2015 World Cup and it would disrupt the Future Tours Programme. But I don't think they are arguments which could not be overcome.
"There will be qualifying for the 2019 tournament but that is six years away, but the promotion and relegation between ODI leagues is a very significant step for us as well. In the meantime, though, you are handing an opportunity for our best players to go to England because they have no alternative [if they want to play in the next World Cup].
"We have all gone into print expressing our disgust but now we must move on and, in association with our Associate friends, we will leave no stone unturned in seeing what our options are in having this iniquitous decision overturned."
Cricket Ireland chief executive Warren Deutrom believes any action to get the decision overturned will have to be inclusive of all the Associate nations and multi-lateral if it is to be successful. "We need to work with the other 94 Associate countries," Deutrom said at Cricket Ireland's annual meeting.
"They feel disenfranchised and it is not just the High Performance countries that have been in touch. Sports lawyers have also been in contact with me but that will be the last resort. All other remedies must be exhausted first and the first opportunity to challenge the decision is at the annual conference in June."