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Ireland map out path to Tests

David Hopps

January 24, 2012

Comments: 68 | Text size: A | A

Irish coach Phil Simmons and Trent Johnston during a photocall at the Croke Park Hotel Dublin, January 24, 2011.
Phil Simmons, the Ireland coach, has signed a two-year extension to his contract © PA Photos
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Cricket Ireland has set out its strategy to bring full Test status by 2020. Targets include an increase in the number of people playing the game in Ireland to 50,000, reaching eighth in the world rankings and establishing a domestic first-class structure.

A number of commercial deals have been secured, allowing Ireland to unveil their strategic plan to 2015 and target their ultimate ambition of securing Test status. As part of that process Cricket Ireland want to have three first-class teams in place by 2015.

Warren Deutrom, Ireland's chief executive, said: "We have set ourselves a very clear long-term ambition - to become a full Test nation by 2020, nothing less. This is not a dreamy aspiration but a real ambition founded on the playing talent being developed on this island, the growing passion and profile of the game here, a sustained and proven track record of achievement on and off the field and a clear roadmap set out by us for how to get there."

Phil Simmons, the Ireland coach, has also agreed a two-year extension to his contract which will take him through to at least the end of Ireland's World Cup qualifying campaign late next year.

Cricket Ireland has offered a record 23 professional contracts to players, in three categories, for 2012, a development Simmons says is vital for their continued improvement.

"A key part of our success to date has been the move to professionalism," Simmons said. "With so many players on full or part-time contracts we now have a structure supporting the senior squad to make sure we can maintain our competitiveness on the international stage."

Initiatives to swell participation numbers to 50,000 will include the establishment of regional academies; a Get Into Cricket scheme which will seek to attract six to 12-year-olds to take up the game in clubs and schools; a Better Clubs Initiative, which will encourage clubs to improve their facilities; and the Cricket Ireland national awards which will recognise contributions ranging from players to volunteers.

"Our commitment to the game at grassroots level will hopefully make a real difference on the ground," Deutrom said. "We want to give as much attention to the domestic game as we have to the international teams in the last four years."

Contract awards

Category A Trent Johnston, Alex Cusack, Kevin O'Brien, John Mooney.

Category B William Porterfield, Niall O'Brien, Paul Stirling, George Dockrell, Gary Wilson, Boyd Rankin, Ed Joyce, Andrew White.

Category C Albert van der Merwe, Nigel Jones, Max Sorensen, Shane Getkate, James Shannon, Stuart Thompson, Andrew Poynter, Andrew Balbirnie, Tom Fisher, Peter Connell, Rory McCann.

David Hopps is the UK editor of ESPNcricinfo

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Posted by SirViv1973 on (January 25, 2012, 22:08 GMT)

Further to my earlier post I would pull Ire out of the ICC Contiental with immediate effect. The current and future tours programme has just started and runs to 2016. Between now and then why not schedule 2 match series home and away against Zim and Ban and if feasible a home series against Wind and NZL and maybe a one off test away to both of those teams , that would be 14 tests if they more than hold their own against these teams and have some sort of first class structure in place by 2016, then surely they could be incorporated in to the next CFTP. We are moving more and more toward a 2 tier structure in test cricket with the likes of Eng, SAF,Aus, Ind and maybe soon Pak playing 4 and 5 match series against each other and then when they play the lower tier teams they would play 2 matches series and when the lower tiers teams place each other they would play 2/3 match series.

Posted by ygkd on (January 25, 2012, 20:43 GMT)

Surely it is time for a pan-European first class structure, like Ireland, N Ireland, Scotland, a couple of Dutch teams and even Wales.

Posted by Super_Cricketer on (January 25, 2012, 16:59 GMT)

@tatactg, Ireland won the Intercontinental Cup in 2005, 2007 & 2008. They couldnt win the tournament in 2010 because half of their total matches had been washed out due to bad weather(Please check the points table).....Anyway 2020 to target for test status..its toooooo late...may be in 2015 they can secure the TEST STATUS....Performance in WC 2015, WT20 2012&2014, ICup 2013 will be considered....

Posted by tatactg on (January 25, 2012, 14:14 GMT)

First let Ireland win the Intercontinental cup- the last one was won by Afghanistan.

Posted by   on (January 25, 2012, 12:51 GMT)

Incredibly deserving of full status. This isn't Kenya in '03. This isn't Bangladesh in '99. This is a board with vision, a long term plan - and a way to pay for it. They deserve full membership more than any other contender since Zimbabwe in '92.

Posted by randikaayya on (January 25, 2012, 12:02 GMT)

Nows the time to take out the stupid clause which allows players from associate members to join full member teams as and when they please. If that is allowed all of Ireland's excelelnt progress, planning, mush hard work and money will go down the grave. The likes of Boyd Rankin and Dockrell should not be allowed to be poached by England of another country. Like Australia snatched Nannes from Netherlands. If those players are good enough to play for crickets elite natiopns, then offer them a chance to play for their country of birth by giving Ireland test status NOW!! Best regards from Sri Lanka

Posted by   on (January 25, 2012, 12:01 GMT)

ICC aren't going to let Ireland into Test Cricket because there is nothing in it for the ICC. There is a pot of money that is split 10 ways, bring anyone else in and each of the 10 gets less money. That's simply not going to happen. I'd love Ireland to get Test status, I live here and have played with and against the current players, but I just don't see the current Test nations giving up cash so someone else can be involved.

Posted by MikeHughes on (January 25, 2012, 11:54 GMT)

@Jimmy2s - William Porterfield is only on a Category B contract because he is a full-time county player in England - the four Category A players are full-time contracted to Ireland, though Kev O'B plays one-dayers for Gloucestershire. Last year Paul Stirling and George Dockrell were also Category A, but will be playing more English county cricket in 2012 so have dropped down. Presumably the money saved on those two allows them to fund the Category C players who make up the numbers in the Intercontinental Cup when they Cat B players are unavailable.

Posted by ROLAYH on (January 25, 2012, 11:32 GMT)

Best of luck Ireland..if any country deserves the test status among the minnows it has to be Ireland...if Bangladesh can get it...certainly Ireland is more deserving case....I support Ireland.....Ireland Zindabad.... :-)

Posted by rahulcricket007 on (January 25, 2012, 10:53 GMT)

WHY NOT FROM NOW ON??? ICC SHOULD TAKE INDIAN TEAM 'S TET STATUS & GIVE IT TOO IRELAND .

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David Hopps David Hopps joined ESPNcricinfo as UK editor early in 2012. For the previous 20 years he was a senior cricket writer for the Guardian and covered England extensively during that time in all Test-playing nations. He also covered four Olympic Games and has written several cricket books, including collections of cricket quotations. He has been an avid amateur cricketer since he was 12, and so knows the pain of repeated failure only too well. The pile of untouched novels he plans to read, but rarely gets around to, is now almost touching the ceiling. He divides his time between the ESPNcricinfo office in Hammersmith and his beloved Yorkshire.
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