Ireland news August 8, 2012

Ireland calls for Test status to 'halt exodus'

ESPNcricinfo staff

Richard Holdsworth, Cricket Ireland's performance director, said Ireland had attempted to secure fast bowler Boyd Rankin's services but could not match up against the "lure" of Test cricket. Reacting to Rankin's retirement as an Ireland player, Holdsworth said only "an accelerated pathway" towards the benefits afforded to Test countries would help Ireland "halt the exodus" to England, for whom it would otherwise be a "breeding ground".

On Wednesday, Rankin announced his retirement from international cricket at the end of the year as he bids to step up to the Test level via English county cricket. Rankin would be the third leading Irish player to leave Ireland for England, following Ed Joyce and Eoin Morgan.

"Cricket Ireland offered Boyd a significantly improved contract to remain an Irish international cricketer but unfortunately we were unable to compete with the lure of Test Cricket and the financial rewards of being a potential England cricketer," Holdsworth said. "This further loss only strengthens our aim of becoming a Full Member of ICC and ultimately a Test-playing country.

"This will be the third Irish player we have lost to the England cause in just six years, notwithstanding Ed Joyce's return. It is our strong view that we must be given the opportunity very soon to finance a full-time international programme and centrally contract all our players in order to halt this exodus."

Ireland, whose performance has stood out among the non-Test playing countries, cannot just be a "breeding ground" for England, Holdsworth said. "We were very grateful for ICC's recent boost to our funding to permit us to implement a domestic first class structure in 2013 and play more international fixtures against the Full Members.

"However it is becoming increasingly obvious that only an accelerated pathway towards the financial benefits and opportunities afforded to the Full Members will allow us to keep hold of our home-grown developed players. The ICC has an excellent ambition to ensure that there are more competitive nations on the world stage; however, this will not be realised if its next best non-Test nation is merely a breeding ground for the England team."

Ireland coach Phil Simmons said Rankin's decision to leave was a "damaging blow", but he was confident of other Ireland players stepping successfully into Rankin's role. He also credited Rankin for being a driving force behind the team's recent successes.

"Boyd has been a superb strike bowler for us, particularly in World Cups and qualifying tournaments. The new ball partnership he forged with Trent Johnston has been one of the main reasons for our success since 2007," Simmons said. "His extra pace and the lift he generates with his height made him a very dangerous proposition.

"It's obviously a very damaging blow for Ireland, but we've lost players before and bounced back and I'm sure this time will be no exception. His absence will create opportunities for others and I'm certain they will grasp them."

Rankin has taken 110 wickets for Ireland since debuting as a teenager in 2003, with a total of 60 wickets in ODIs and Twenty20 internationals. At the 2007 World Cup in the Caribbean, he was Ireland's leading wicket-taker, his scalps including those of Younis Khan, Michael Vaughan, Ed Joyce, Stephen Fleming, Herschelle Gibbs and AB de Villiers.

Rankin will now pursue cricket with English county Warwickshire, with whom he has signed a new three-year deal.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dennis on August 11, 2012, 0:43 GMT

    Ireland need a first class structure in place first before they even dream of Test Status .As for Afganistan , they will never achieve test status ,no money , and no western team will tour there

  • Anupam on August 9, 2012, 19:26 GMT

    irish, namibia, afghan are better than zim, wI, nz

  • Nikhil on August 9, 2012, 18:02 GMT

    AjaySridharan: Bro, Ireland is a separate country and they had their own delegation at the Olympics. You must be thinking of Northern Ireland.

  • Munaf on August 9, 2012, 16:37 GMT

    I support Ireland. From what I have seen they have potential to one of top 6 test playing nations based on performances till now. Defeated (Kicked) out Pakistan out of WC2007 , defeated(thrashed) Eng in Wc2011 and many other victories

  • Ajay on August 9, 2012, 15:01 GMT

    I love the Irish cricket team, but find this whole issue of Ireland losing out to England to be a bit silly. They'll compete in the Olympics as one nation of Great Britain, but will go back to their regionalism when it comes to Cricket?! Perhaps they should consider having one Great Britain/UK cricket team. I support the cause of the non-test playing countries asking for test status on other grounds, but in this particular case, it is silly. Maybe the Queen should step in! :)

  • J Ranjith on August 9, 2012, 10:51 GMT

    What's one good valid reason that ICC is not making countries like Ireland, Afghanisthan as test playing nations? They need not arrange FTP much with top countries, but they could arrange many matches with Bangladesh, Zim and many others as possible so many aspiring cricketers would be playing at Test level. If ICC is not considering doing this, then how would new nations would want to play cricket. Every gentleman curses T20 but the problem is why are we not allowing everyone to play Test Cricket. This is absurd, weird and illiterate from the governors of cricket.

  • Dik on August 9, 2012, 10:38 GMT

    If he was quitting on Ireland for an IPL contract people would've been going crazy! England is to Ireland, what IPL is to Test cricket. I'm not an IPL supporter, and don't mean to drag IPL into this as well, but I just had to point that out.

  • Andrew on August 9, 2012, 2:42 GMT

    The whole "England poaching Ireland players" is a double edged sword, most people on here are rightly annoyed as it lessens the chances of Ireland putting fwd an irrefutable case for promotion. The other side is, England is a grenuine career path for players in a country where the sport is a poor cousin to other codes. Players like Dockrell & Rankin have become better players by playing in England county cricket with access to professional coaching & training. So it is NOT all take, take, take from England - although it is a valid stir against England!!!!!

  • Andrew on August 9, 2012, 2:38 GMT

    I wonder how many more matches Dockrell will play for Ireland?

  • Sean on August 9, 2012, 2:09 GMT

    I can tell from the subsequent responses as well as the earlier ones that people still don't really understand what Test status entails. Simply put it means being able to play test cricket based on drawing your team from your own DOMESTIC first-class competition. A competition becomes first-class once it is adjudged so by a full member board or by the ICC. But a competition can never be given first-class status if the matches are less than 3-days in length. For those who do not know, Bangladesh and Zimbabwe had up 2-day cricket which was turned into 3-day cricket before getting test status (Zimbabwe had 2-day cricket all the way back to the old days as Rhodesia and lest people forget multi-day cricket has been around in Bangladesh for DECADES since Bangladesh used to be part of Pakistan from the 1940s to the 1970s and before that it (along with Pakistan) used to be part of British India where first class cricket was played). So stop bashing Zimbabwe and Bangladesh.

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