November 5, 2009

Why Ireland should be a Test nation

Cricket needs to move beyond its cosy cartel of countries, bring in more teams, and have two or more divisions
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Ireland's current application for Test status ought to be taken seriously. Indeed, it ought to be accepted, and that means convincing at least seven of the 10 established nations to give it the green light.

Not that the Irish can start playing Test cricket next month. Instead a time-table is required to give that fine land time to complete its preparations. Test cricketers cannot be microwaved. Nor can Test teams or grounds. If Ireland is to survive the awaiting examinations then it needs to get to work right away with a view to playing its first five-day match three years hence. It cannot be any longer delayed. Already Ireland's top players are trying their luck with England. Not content with pinching their potatoes, the Poms are now taking Ireland's players. All the more reason to get behind Boyd Rankin, Eoin Morgan, Ed Joyce and their comrades. There is a tide in the affairs of men and all that...

Cricket needs to move beyond its tight little cartel of colonial and post-colonial countries. Otherwise it'll spend the rest of its history contemplating its navel and worrying about border disputes, despots, civil wars, religious and racial disharmony, suppression, patronage, rugby, soccer and all the other complications of contemporary and future life. The only way to avoid these internal battles periodically crippling the game is to widen its appeal, to turn it from an imperial relic into a world game. To that end the ICC has with increasing vigour and growing success been seeking to take the gift of the game to every possible nook and cranny of a shrinking world torn between tradition and Twitter. That is the way to breathe life into the game.

All sorts of n'er-do-wells grumble about India's stranglehold, but that is power, money and democracy. Previously almost as many fatheads grizzled about England's 100-year domination. Both arguments miss the point. Plain and simple, there is not nearly enough to run. The game has not stretched itself. It has been sustained by an empire, and latterly because the world's largest democracy is infatuated with it. These strokes of luck ought to be a beginning not an end. Or do the craven conservatives imagine that cricket contain some secret beyond the ken of South Americans, Serbians and so forth?

Cricket ought to have more confidence in itself. It is not the dreary recreation endured in junior school. It is a vibrant game occasionally spoilt by the slow-witted. Consider it well. All those sixes smacked out of the ground, all that scurrying between wickets, all those subtle slow bowlers and explosive speedsters, and the quietness and sense of anticipation in between. Tall and small batsmen, lefties and righties, and the sudden shafts of passion as a wicket falls. But the game knows all that. It just does not believe it. The clichés about nothing happening are wide of the mark. In any case, a pal went to her first baseball game last September and had to wait till 2.30 in the morning and the 14th inning for a run to be scored. Yet baseball survives. Now cricket has its 50-over contests and Twenty20 and so forth. Baseball has fallen behind. It's high time it introduced three-inning matches. But do not tell them.

Certainly cricket has its own culture, and is handed down through the generations. The list of fathers and sons playing the game is long and grows apace. An England team could be listed consisting of sons (you know what I mean). Let's try it. Stuart Broad, Chris Tremlett, Ryan Sidebottom, Riki Wessels, Joshua Cobb, Tom Maynard, David Willey, Jonathan Bairstow, and add a few of your own. The process has to start somewhere. Decades ago I told Ali Bacher that his township coaches were instructing the fathers of the forthcoming black South African team, not the players themselves. It is a handed-down game. But it is also glorious. And everywhere it started from scratch.

Cricket is altogether too precious about Test cricket. In every other sport it is possible for strong and weak to meet without the game getting into a palaver about it. Brazil can play the Isle of Man in football and it's still called a fair-dinkum international

Of course the backwoodsmen resist all newcomers and regard money spent in Sierra Leone, China, Papua New Guinea and Argentina, for example, as wasted. Presumably they think it ought to be given to the folks in Marylebone, Melbourne or Mumbai, fellows anxious to obtain yet another roller or an eighth pair of batting gloves. These defeatists think the game is doomed to remain within its current parameters and point out that American games are likewise constrained. Far from giving in so easily, cricket needs to work even harder to turn molehills into mountains. Happily the much-maligned ICC- what fun it is to bag governing bodies and selectors and other grey-faced bodies - takes a longer view. Aware that cricket has many attractions and quite a lot of money, it is sending coaches all over the place and starting leagues and introducing promotion and relegation so that ambitious nations can see the pathway to the top. In some places, admittedly, cricket depends on its migrant population (England and Canada spring to mind). Elsewhere the locals are taking to it.

And Ireland sits at the top of this particular tree. All the more reason to award them Test status. In any case cricket is altogether too precious about Test cricket. In every other sport it is possible for strong and weak to meet without the game getting into a palaver about it. Brazil can play the Isle of Man in football and it's still called a fair-dinkum international. If Kaka scores 10 goals, all and sundry shrug and smile and forget about it. When the same things happen in cricket, steam comes out of the ears of statisticians and historians worried about Arthur Shrewsbury's legacy, or other ancient irrelevances. Entire books of statistics are produced. Entire books. Indeed the game's most weighty and revered tome consists mostly of figures. The past has its place but its tyranny ought to be challenged. Context does matter but the game cannot remain hidebound. Does anyone care that much about Ken Barrington's average? Or Bob Cowper's? And has not cricket often pitted powerful against weak? Admittedly it has not happened quite as much in the last few decades, but India, South Africa and others fielded threadbare sides in their early outings.

Moreover Test cricket is not weakened by the number of sides taking part at the elite level but by the fact that the strongest and weakest regularly play against each other. That distorts the picture. And the solution is obvious. Split the top nations into two divisions, and in 10 years' time make it three. Allow promotion and relegation. Arrange Test championships. What the heck - aspiring nations ought to be encouraged, not kept in their place. But the product needs to improve. Slow over-rates, drinks breaks, stoppages for rain and bad light, intrusions by servants dressed as 12th men, changing the ball, and all the other delaying tactics ought to be abolished. At all times the game must go on. Shelter, transport, entertainment and refreshments ought to be provided for hard-pressed and often insulted spectators. Cricket is competing in a marketplace and needs to take its public into account.

Ireland has worked hard for years and has maintained a high standard. At present it lacks a first-class structure but one is mooted, and anyhow money has been tight, besides which other countries have been accepted without one. In any case it's the results and the quality of the players that matter, and on both counts Ireland passes muster. It's high time Irish victories over supposedly superior opponents were not regarded as flukes. The World Cup win over Pakistan was merely an upset. Grizzling England were nearly held after the Ashes, and never mind that Ireland had been denied the services of its best players. Incredibly, English reporters dared to point out that the Irish were captained by an Australian. Pots and kettles! Anyhow Trent Johnston long ago committed himself to the Irish cause.

Nor is it right to focus only on the three most recognisable Irish cricketers, the trio called up by England in recent times. Ben Stinga, a student of the wider game across the world, has produced a list of Irish cricketers capable of holding their own in any company. Here is the current squad with their List A career records.

Ireland players in List A cricket
Player Matches Runs HS Ave 100s 50s Wkts Runs Best Ave Econ
William Porterfield † 80 2625 112* 35 4 15
Jeremy Bray 45 962 116 22.37 2 4
Reinhardt Strydom 22 301 49 16.72 0 0 1 139 1-63 139 6.3
Paul Stirling †* 20 426 84 22.42 0 4
Andrew Botha 83 1188 139 20.13 1 4 82 2295 4-19 27.98 4.6
Niall O'Brien † 106 2023 95 27.33 0 14
James Hall * 4 63 27 15.75 0 0 1 22 1-22 22 4.1
Andrew Poynter * 11 105 29 11.66 0 0
Kevin O'Brien † 74 1728 142 30.31 2 8 28 1691 4-31 44.50 5.4
Gary Wilson †* 56 976 61 20.76 0 7
John Mooney 32 416 42 18.90 0 0 20 800 4-43 40 5.9
Andrew White 75 1128 71* 21.28 0 4 32 1060 4-22 33.12 4.7
Andrew White 75 1128 71* 21.28 0 4 32 1060 4-22 33.12 4.7
Trent Johnston ø 62 800 67 20.51 0 2 61 2014 5-14 33.01 4.5
Fintan McAllister * 4 26 13* 13.00 0 0
Alex Cusack ø 38 464 41 22.09 0 0 35 901 3-15 25.74 4.4
Kyle McCallan 99 1299 53* 21.65 0 2 81 2909 4-30 35.91 4.1
Regan West 23 96 29* 13.71 0 0 25 701 5-26 28.04 3.9
Peter Connell 23 58 22* 19.33 0 0 35 916 5-19 26.17 5.2
Gary Kidd * 14 37 15 5.28 0 0 10 433 3-32 43.30 4.2
Boyd Rankin † 41 34 9 6.80 0 0 50 1352 3-32 27.04 4.9
Phil Eaglestone 9 8 4 2.66 0 0 8 258 2-49 32.25 5.4
Andrew Britton * 1 0 0 0 0 37 6.11
Greg Thompson * 4 2 2 0.66 0 0 2 75 1-2 37.50 5.3
Eoin Morgan †* 111 3195 161 35.50 4 20
Ed Joyce † 184 5698 146 36.52 7 37
Graeme McCarter †* 0
Stuart Poynter †* 0
James Shannon †* 0
Andrew Balbirnie †* 0
Ben Ackland †* 0
Chris Dougherty †* 0
Shane Getkate †* 0
George Dockrell 0
Eddie Richardson 0
Nigel Jones 0
Allen Coulter 0
Ryan Haire 2 56 54 28 0 1
Kenny Carroll 10 131 28 13.10 0 0
Thinus Fourie 17 132 30 16.50 0 0 12 479 3-41 39.91 4.4

Players with English counties, county academies or (in the case of Chris Dougherty) a first-class university; * Developing younger players in the squad or those on the verge; ø Contracted full-time with Cricket Ireland

Obviously Ireland will struggle to compete with India in Bangalore or Australia in Perth, but they are hardly alone in that. They are competitive in soccer and rugby, and given a chance, will rise in cricket. In any case the time has come for the game to spread its wings. Before long Ireland, Zimbabwe, Bangladesh, Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, Jamaica, Holland, Afghanistan, Tanzania and Uganda ought to be competing for places in a second division playing four- or five-day Test cricket. Scotland and Kenya have fallen back, Canada has lost its main sponsor and the USA has been bedevilled by infighting, but the best-laid plans and so on... And the top teams in the second rung could then hope to fulfill their dreams by playing Test cricket at Lord's or Eden Gardens or the MCG. What exactly is there to lose?

Peter Roebuck is a former captain of Somerset and the author, most recently, of In It to Win It

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • NSUrockr on November 9, 2009, 0:05 GMT

    until 2003 Bd and Kenya were considered equal teams. But since 2006 (when Bd got the opportunity to meet them) theyve proved the difference by winning all 7 ODI's ince then. Winning the last 8 outta 10 proves that Bangladesh has created the difference with Zimbabwe by today. No we just have to wait till Bangladesh surpasses the once mighty West Indies and then New Zealand. If u look at the ODI ranking table u will observe that teams like Zimbabwe, Kenya or Ireland have about 25 points (more or less). But Bangladesh has more than twice that (55 or so). Teams like India have 120 or so. But West Indies have 75 or so. By 2011 Bangladesh and West Indies will be on equal footing. Notwithstanding my support for Ireland Test status they will also take atleast 10 years before they reach the level of Bangladesh today. and by 2015 (by the time Ashraful retires) Bangladesh will become a major contender for the world cup. so dont act surprised when uc Ireland losing their first 30tests by an inngs

  • NSUrockr on November 8, 2009, 23:42 GMT

    Bangladesh have won the last 8 of 10 ODI's against Zimbabwe. and since 2006 have won 24 outof 34.bowled out Zim within 44 runs just recently.so Nipun i dont find what kind of kick ur tryin 2 get by undermining Bd against Zim. Bcak in 2005 Zim lost their best players which they developed for 10 plus years. Guess what they fell rock bottom and turned vulnerable against lowly Bangladesh. Zimbabwe pulled itself outta Tests because they knew they had no backup players. Very natural when u only have 8-10 players from 5-6 families playing a game that 95% were not a part of. Tough luck for them. But todays Zimbabwe is the best team they could have in 2009. Theres no more Flowers or Streaks or Strangs. (Streak is currently one of the coaches)So tht is what u mean by a pool of players. On the other hand even after the ICL setback where 14 players left (out of which 9 were in the national side) Bd still beat New Zealand and performed no worse than they would have.

  • Nipun on November 8, 2009, 16:35 GMT

    There have been so many comments expressing that Bangladesh deserved the test status.Reasons?Although Bangladesh's performance in the field was below below-par before being awarded the test status,Bangladesh have the population,sponsors,domestic infrastructure(now this is the biggest joke that you can ever hear,even God will say lol).OK,here's one perfect example given by the famous cricket writer Mr.Guha:-"The number of people obsessed with football in India will easily exceed the entire population of Bangladesh.Does that mean India should be given a direct entry to FIFA World Cups?Try selling that one to FIFA!" mirfan2001,rezaul,you guys can counter this?

  • Nipun on November 8, 2009, 16:29 GMT

    @mirfan2001:-Performance in the field is the chiefmost criteria.You do not get good marks for a marketing presentation if you have excellent dress-ups but no knowledge of the product you are trying to sell.Since being awarded the test status,Bangladesh have defeated India & Sri Lanka 2 times,Australia,NewZealand,SA,Zimbabwe(real Zimbabwe) from 2000 to 2009 in 9 years.That's test class for you?Unfortunately,that's not test class according to most of the people in the cricketing arena,including seasoned cricket experts.How many tests have Bangladesh drawn without assistance of rain?1.How many tests have Bangladesh won against teams which were not depleted by the loss of key players?ZERO.How many innings defeats have Bangladesh suffered?PLENTY.How many Bangladeshi batsmen have a test average of 30?1,& that too,just.How many Bangladeshi bowlers average 3 wickets a test?1,& that too,just.

  • Nipun on November 8, 2009, 11:14 GMT

    @Rezaul:-I thought you would have been ashamed by the fact Bangladesh, a "TEST" team for close to 10 years now,still loses at least a match every series to Zimbabwe,who have not played test cricket since 2005 & have played only 7/8 ODIs a year till then,& that too mostly against the likes of Bermuda,Netherlands,Kenya,etc.Don't argue here with what I've said.Go to cricinfo statsguru & see it yourselves. Here's a stat:-since 1 January 2006,Bangladesh has defeated Zimbabwe in 21 ODIs & lost in 8 ODIs,& by the end of 2005,Zimbabwe was a broken team,with Bangladesh being a 6 year old test nation with all its players available.In 2009,Bangladesh has defeated Zimbabwe 10 times & lost 4 times !!!

  • Nipun on November 8, 2009, 11:04 GMT

    @Rezaul:-& Please stop uttering your pointless claims that Bangladesh has a pool of quality players.None of the current Bangladeshi batsmen have a test average of 25+,apart from Sakib Al Hasan who probably averages 30 or below.Apart from Sakib,no other Bangladeshi bowlers have records of even 3 wickets a test,like 60 wickets from 20 tests,which means 3 wickets a test.Bangladesh is probably one of the poorest fielding sides ever.So what do you mean Bangladesh has a pool of quality players?Maybe you are used to watch the Argentina Cricket Leagues & stuff so you think this is quality.But I assure you it is not.Look around,watch proper cricket between proper test teams.

  • Nipun on November 8, 2009, 10:59 GMT

    @Rezaul:-OK,you fear that Ireland will struggle if the non-Irish players depart from Ireland.I assume it'll be the opposite.If Ireland is awarded the test status,many English players,who may not play for England,may get a chance to play for Ireland.This will boost Ireland.Plus,the fact that the Irish players play county cricket in England means they are quite well prepared.What does Bangladesh bring to the test arena?What HAS Bangladesh brought to the test arena?Despair.Yes,you may talk about the odd decent test performance here & there,but that is not what's expected @ the test level.This is the ultimate cricket arena.I have told VALID STATISTICAL POINTS.Please reply only if you have valid statistical arguments,not plain emotion.The games of Bangladesh-Ireland were over after one innings?It only happened in the 3rd ODI,where Bangladesh slogged to 293.You can check out the scores in cricinfo.I assume you didn't watch any of the games.

  • Rezaul on November 8, 2009, 5:01 GMT

    @Nipun, the games in Bangladesh were over after 1st innings. But the games Bang lost to IRE in T20 and world cup were closely fought. You told Bangladesh still loses to Zim in every series. I think you dont even follow the result. Bangladesh thrashed Zim by 4-1 in last two series, even Zim was all out for 44 in one game. I feel shame to talk about the people who even dont follow the result.

    Now, talk about IRE, if aussie and south african players (Bray,Johnston,Botha etc)did not played for ireland. Ireland couldn't have been qualified for the world cup. With only homegrown irishman, Ireland might struggle against Bermuda. I can bet you, in next world cup IRE will fight for last place with Neth in the group B, forget about any upset. <Arzoo-USA>

  • Rezaul on November 8, 2009, 4:43 GMT

    @Nipun, you have lost your basic sense. I dont know which nationality you are. But I have reasonable doubt about your honesty. So you meant Pak lost to Bangladesh intentionally? I guess you were in Pak dressing room that time otherwise how would you know this secret which is unknown to the whole world. You are insulting a team's integrity and nationality. Still I remember, the hard fight by Pakistani batters and Wasim Akram. The consecutive bouncers to Akram by the little man Mahmud is still giving me the charm. Its a shame for the people to call this match like that.

    Again my ICL point was taken wong. All I meant is 18 Pakistan, 14 Bangladesh & 7 Newzealand players were taken by ICL and still they played quality cricket with new look team. Its because they have a pool of quality players. Thats where IRELAND is decades back. They are shouting of loosing couple of average player, forget about loosing the full team. I can see IRE will struggle to even compete single match next world cup

  • dulabari on November 8, 2009, 0:13 GMT

    I personally like idea of giving Test status to Ireland. But if you compare BD, Kenya, or Ireland, Bangladesh had some advantages: - Bacause it was a part of a test palying country(pakistan) for about 25 years it already had the Test cricket culture. There were several erstwhile East Pakistani who played Test cricket (eg. Niaz Muhammad). Dhaka was the venu for a number of Test matches. The people there always has a passion for cricket. You will find 20 thousand people in the stadium. Millions of people wathing cricket on TV.

    - There are huge Bangladeshi community in England, Australia, Dubai and other places. So from commercial poiny of view it was a plus.

  • NSUrockr on November 9, 2009, 0:05 GMT

    until 2003 Bd and Kenya were considered equal teams. But since 2006 (when Bd got the opportunity to meet them) theyve proved the difference by winning all 7 ODI's ince then. Winning the last 8 outta 10 proves that Bangladesh has created the difference with Zimbabwe by today. No we just have to wait till Bangladesh surpasses the once mighty West Indies and then New Zealand. If u look at the ODI ranking table u will observe that teams like Zimbabwe, Kenya or Ireland have about 25 points (more or less). But Bangladesh has more than twice that (55 or so). Teams like India have 120 or so. But West Indies have 75 or so. By 2011 Bangladesh and West Indies will be on equal footing. Notwithstanding my support for Ireland Test status they will also take atleast 10 years before they reach the level of Bangladesh today. and by 2015 (by the time Ashraful retires) Bangladesh will become a major contender for the world cup. so dont act surprised when uc Ireland losing their first 30tests by an inngs

  • NSUrockr on November 8, 2009, 23:42 GMT

    Bangladesh have won the last 8 of 10 ODI's against Zimbabwe. and since 2006 have won 24 outof 34.bowled out Zim within 44 runs just recently.so Nipun i dont find what kind of kick ur tryin 2 get by undermining Bd against Zim. Bcak in 2005 Zim lost their best players which they developed for 10 plus years. Guess what they fell rock bottom and turned vulnerable against lowly Bangladesh. Zimbabwe pulled itself outta Tests because they knew they had no backup players. Very natural when u only have 8-10 players from 5-6 families playing a game that 95% were not a part of. Tough luck for them. But todays Zimbabwe is the best team they could have in 2009. Theres no more Flowers or Streaks or Strangs. (Streak is currently one of the coaches)So tht is what u mean by a pool of players. On the other hand even after the ICL setback where 14 players left (out of which 9 were in the national side) Bd still beat New Zealand and performed no worse than they would have.

  • Nipun on November 8, 2009, 16:35 GMT

    There have been so many comments expressing that Bangladesh deserved the test status.Reasons?Although Bangladesh's performance in the field was below below-par before being awarded the test status,Bangladesh have the population,sponsors,domestic infrastructure(now this is the biggest joke that you can ever hear,even God will say lol).OK,here's one perfect example given by the famous cricket writer Mr.Guha:-"The number of people obsessed with football in India will easily exceed the entire population of Bangladesh.Does that mean India should be given a direct entry to FIFA World Cups?Try selling that one to FIFA!" mirfan2001,rezaul,you guys can counter this?

  • Nipun on November 8, 2009, 16:29 GMT

    @mirfan2001:-Performance in the field is the chiefmost criteria.You do not get good marks for a marketing presentation if you have excellent dress-ups but no knowledge of the product you are trying to sell.Since being awarded the test status,Bangladesh have defeated India & Sri Lanka 2 times,Australia,NewZealand,SA,Zimbabwe(real Zimbabwe) from 2000 to 2009 in 9 years.That's test class for you?Unfortunately,that's not test class according to most of the people in the cricketing arena,including seasoned cricket experts.How many tests have Bangladesh drawn without assistance of rain?1.How many tests have Bangladesh won against teams which were not depleted by the loss of key players?ZERO.How many innings defeats have Bangladesh suffered?PLENTY.How many Bangladeshi batsmen have a test average of 30?1,& that too,just.How many Bangladeshi bowlers average 3 wickets a test?1,& that too,just.

  • Nipun on November 8, 2009, 11:14 GMT

    @Rezaul:-I thought you would have been ashamed by the fact Bangladesh, a "TEST" team for close to 10 years now,still loses at least a match every series to Zimbabwe,who have not played test cricket since 2005 & have played only 7/8 ODIs a year till then,& that too mostly against the likes of Bermuda,Netherlands,Kenya,etc.Don't argue here with what I've said.Go to cricinfo statsguru & see it yourselves. Here's a stat:-since 1 January 2006,Bangladesh has defeated Zimbabwe in 21 ODIs & lost in 8 ODIs,& by the end of 2005,Zimbabwe was a broken team,with Bangladesh being a 6 year old test nation with all its players available.In 2009,Bangladesh has defeated Zimbabwe 10 times & lost 4 times !!!

  • Nipun on November 8, 2009, 11:04 GMT

    @Rezaul:-& Please stop uttering your pointless claims that Bangladesh has a pool of quality players.None of the current Bangladeshi batsmen have a test average of 25+,apart from Sakib Al Hasan who probably averages 30 or below.Apart from Sakib,no other Bangladeshi bowlers have records of even 3 wickets a test,like 60 wickets from 20 tests,which means 3 wickets a test.Bangladesh is probably one of the poorest fielding sides ever.So what do you mean Bangladesh has a pool of quality players?Maybe you are used to watch the Argentina Cricket Leagues & stuff so you think this is quality.But I assure you it is not.Look around,watch proper cricket between proper test teams.

  • Nipun on November 8, 2009, 10:59 GMT

    @Rezaul:-OK,you fear that Ireland will struggle if the non-Irish players depart from Ireland.I assume it'll be the opposite.If Ireland is awarded the test status,many English players,who may not play for England,may get a chance to play for Ireland.This will boost Ireland.Plus,the fact that the Irish players play county cricket in England means they are quite well prepared.What does Bangladesh bring to the test arena?What HAS Bangladesh brought to the test arena?Despair.Yes,you may talk about the odd decent test performance here & there,but that is not what's expected @ the test level.This is the ultimate cricket arena.I have told VALID STATISTICAL POINTS.Please reply only if you have valid statistical arguments,not plain emotion.The games of Bangladesh-Ireland were over after one innings?It only happened in the 3rd ODI,where Bangladesh slogged to 293.You can check out the scores in cricinfo.I assume you didn't watch any of the games.

  • Rezaul on November 8, 2009, 5:01 GMT

    @Nipun, the games in Bangladesh were over after 1st innings. But the games Bang lost to IRE in T20 and world cup were closely fought. You told Bangladesh still loses to Zim in every series. I think you dont even follow the result. Bangladesh thrashed Zim by 4-1 in last two series, even Zim was all out for 44 in one game. I feel shame to talk about the people who even dont follow the result.

    Now, talk about IRE, if aussie and south african players (Bray,Johnston,Botha etc)did not played for ireland. Ireland couldn't have been qualified for the world cup. With only homegrown irishman, Ireland might struggle against Bermuda. I can bet you, in next world cup IRE will fight for last place with Neth in the group B, forget about any upset. <Arzoo-USA>

  • Rezaul on November 8, 2009, 4:43 GMT

    @Nipun, you have lost your basic sense. I dont know which nationality you are. But I have reasonable doubt about your honesty. So you meant Pak lost to Bangladesh intentionally? I guess you were in Pak dressing room that time otherwise how would you know this secret which is unknown to the whole world. You are insulting a team's integrity and nationality. Still I remember, the hard fight by Pakistani batters and Wasim Akram. The consecutive bouncers to Akram by the little man Mahmud is still giving me the charm. Its a shame for the people to call this match like that.

    Again my ICL point was taken wong. All I meant is 18 Pakistan, 14 Bangladesh & 7 Newzealand players were taken by ICL and still they played quality cricket with new look team. Its because they have a pool of quality players. Thats where IRELAND is decades back. They are shouting of loosing couple of average player, forget about loosing the full team. I can see IRE will struggle to even compete single match next world cup

  • dulabari on November 8, 2009, 0:13 GMT

    I personally like idea of giving Test status to Ireland. But if you compare BD, Kenya, or Ireland, Bangladesh had some advantages: - Bacause it was a part of a test palying country(pakistan) for about 25 years it already had the Test cricket culture. There were several erstwhile East Pakistani who played Test cricket (eg. Niaz Muhammad). Dhaka was the venu for a number of Test matches. The people there always has a passion for cricket. You will find 20 thousand people in the stadium. Millions of people wathing cricket on TV.

    - There are huge Bangladeshi community in England, Australia, Dubai and other places. So from commercial poiny of view it was a plus.

  • dulabari on November 8, 2009, 0:04 GMT

    Nipun, why you think , it is trash to talk about the time it took for NZ (26 years)and India (20 years) to win. NZ has also the record of scoring 26 all out. True they managed to draw some games, but please consider the following:

    - England, Australia, WI used to play 4 day test matchs with Pak., India, and NZ for a long time. - Initially they used to send the 2nd team to those countries. If you check the records you will find that once England sent two teams to Australia and NZ at the same time. -there were no requirements of 90 overs/day. No fan, media, or commercial pressure. So it was much easier to secure a draw in those days.

  • smanzur on November 7, 2009, 18:37 GMT

    I am really surprised to see the comments by Nipun. "...if Bangladesh could be awarded the test status,then Ireland should be awarded this without any hesitation" was the comment he made. It looks like a childish demand for candy ... if 'x' was given one why not me. Nipun himself said Kenya was a much better side when Bangladesh was given the status. What does it mean? Performance in the field is not the only criteria. Bangladesh scored high in other areas -- crowds in stadium, sponsors (better than many top sides), domestic infrastructure etc. Statistics now also speak in favour of Bangladesh. They have beaten all the top sides, except England (few matches played with England). Their first win in test came much before NZ had it. It would have come much earlier had there been no silly umpiring mistakes in matches, like the one in Multan against Pakistan. Bangladesh may still behind other test nations, but way ahead Ireland, Zimbabwe and others.

  • cric_freak88 on November 7, 2009, 15:38 GMT

    Limited over cricket can never be compared with test cricket.

    Because test cricket is the ultimate form of the game.

    Ireland are a promising side and they have beaten top sides in limited format internationals .

    But i seriously doubt if they can repeat their limited over game feats in TEST CRICKET.

    Test Cricket is different , it's not that a top side gets dismissed for a paltry score and Ireland chase it down ( like in ODI's and t20's ). Here the test playing nation will come back stronger in the second innings.

    Obviously if u have 3 match test series between ireland and SA in any venue , you can predict the result straightaway !

    Even now some former players and other ppl question Bangaldesh's TEST STATUS.

    Some teams dont want one-sided encounters ( Ponting said so 2-3 months ago).

    I have high respect for ireland as they are close knit unit and play like a FORCE but i think they still have a long way in achieving TEST STATUS.

  • Mornington1234 on November 7, 2009, 14:24 GMT

    I have been a supporter of cricket for many years. Although, I support Sri Lanka, I am Irish and have seen how far Ireland has come during the past 10 years. It is very frustrating for Ireland being a small cricket playing country to grow as the local structure is not in place to play 1st class cricket. Therefore, any talented Irish cricketer who wants to excel in the sport, will want to try to secure a contract with an English county cricket side. Therefore, I am delighted that Ireland have applied for Test Membership and more power to them. I am very optimistic that Ireland will continue to develop the sport and develop new exciting cricket tallent. Lets hope during the next 4 years that Ireland can develop a first class professional cricket league and secure test status. Ireland needs the support of the established cricket countries. For the good of the sport, support Ireland and then maybe England, may not be allowed to poach our best players!!

  • Nipun on November 7, 2009, 14:05 GMT

    I am not suggesting that Ireland should be awarded the test status.I simply mean that if Bangladesh could be awarded the test status,then Ireland should be awarded this without any hesitation.

  • Nipun on November 7, 2009, 14:03 GMT

    @Rezaul:-All Bangladesh did was winning a controversial match against Pakistan,which Pakistan took very lightly indeed,& they were awarded the TEST status.Kenya had much better credentials than Bangladesh @ that time;check the stats before 2000.So what do want to mean by Ireland needs to perform?They have battered Bangladesh in both the World Cups they have played in,& beat Pakistan in a live WC match(with Bangladesh,Pakistan's match was a dead rubber).Ireland also ran Sri Lanka bloody close in ICC World T20.About infrastructure,well,all Bangladesh has is a so-called first-class cricket league which is as disorganised as possible.So your points about the Irish infrastructure is also invalid.Bangladesh's test performances speak for themselves-with innings batterings in about 75% of their matches.They can't even draw tests,which all the other test teams managed so frequently in their early days.Now don't come up with all the trash that India & NZ took this many years to win their 1st tst

  • morgieb on November 7, 2009, 11:10 GMT

    This lineup would compete in international cricket, IMO...

    1. Will Porterfield 2. Hamish Marshall* 3. Ed Joyce 4. Eoin Morgan 5. Niall O'Brien 6. Alex Cusack 7. Sean Ervine* 8. Kyle McCallan/Andrew White 9. Trent Johnston 10. Boyd Rankin 11. Peter Connell

    * Qualify due to having Irish passport, which allow them to play in England as non-foreigners.

    Good side TBH. Probably some more that I'm forgetting too.

  • __PK on November 7, 2009, 8:08 GMT

    Long piece. You really need to learn to come to the point, Mr Roebcuk. Personally, I'd love to see Ireland play tests - although their long term future is shaky without a First Class infrastructure. But you're treading dangerous ground when you challenge the "tryanny" of the past. "Does anyone care that much about Ken Barrington's average? Or Bob Cowper's?" Yes, the hidebound traditionalists, who are all that's keeping Test cricket alive, given that we need T20 to attract new fans.

  • Nipun on November 7, 2009, 7:41 GMT

    @ Rezaul :- OK,Bangladesh thrashed Ireland in their home conditions,but Ireland also thrashed Bangladesh in the ICC World T20 & on the dead pitches in West Indies in WC 2007.@ the moment,the aggregate is 3-2 in limited overs contests.So you can't say that Ireland is below Bangladesh.Ireland has produced quality players like Ed Joyce,Boyd Rankin,Ewin Morgan,Langford-Smith,Trent Johnston,Nial O'Brian,& all.In contrast,Bangladesh only has Sakib Al Hasan & maybe Mortaza.Some of you guys like to talk of Ashraful is a talent which is quite funny because he has an average of 23 in 50 tests & 150+ ODIs.Bangladesh still loses to Zimbabwe in every series & they battled really hard to win against West Indies C.About the ICL issue,well,what did Bangladesh do with the expreienced players who went to play the ICL?They won 3/4 matches against good teams in 4 years.I really don't get your points.

  • The_Wog on November 7, 2009, 4:13 GMT

    The problem has never been IND's stranglehold - it's how they abuse it. Quite apart from the grotesque bullying of umpires and participants in rival competitions is their refusal to accept sanction of players for even the most egregious misconduct. (Before Monkeygate and the threat to cancel the tour was Dennessgate - how many "Gates" do we need before Roebuck ends his kowtowing and actually calls it like the rest of the world knows it to be?)

    Now back to the point: There's nothing stopping IRE from playing ZIM, BAN, NED, DEN etc in first class matches all they want - smash China, Estonia and PNG in a 4d game if they want. Hell, call them "Internationals" if you like - that's what they are. Why do they NEED to be called "Tests"? Test status implies something they don't have. And what's wrong with it evolving from regular ODI status rather than being an experimental gift?

  • Rezaul on November 6, 2009, 20:27 GMT

    After seeing all these comments and Peter's article, now I believe that people can fool themselves. They understand that they r wrong in arguments and statements but still keep crying for their baseless demand. We are hundreds of year ahead of dark age still I feel that these people are pushing us back there. Remember, when England was playing so badly for a decade nobody questioned their performance or nobody talked about 2 tier test cricket. Now when Bangladesh plays 1 or 2 bad games they are up to grab the scope. Its nothing but racial. But they forgot that the current Bangladesh team cant be taken as granted as it used to be for England at 90s.

    @Sportsscientist, you took me wrong in ICL point. I mentioned that Bangladesh has a pool of quality players thats why when the complete team went for ICL still it was not a problem to defeat NZL by a completely new team.

    Finally, I would say that Ireland needs to perform before even being considered. They need to have solid infrastructure

  • Allan716 on November 6, 2009, 19:30 GMT

    Great article! Ireland is at its peak and should be given its Test status as soon as possible. I totally agree with the two and three division status. It is important for the competition and the success of the game. Also, for the game to have greater followers, it is important to have day-night Test Matches so that more people can come to games at night as well as watch them on TV during prime time. The other bit that will have to change with time is limited over Test Matches so that there are more results. For the non playing nations it is still difficult to fathom how a contest that lasts five days cannot produce a result.

  • Patrick_Clarke on November 6, 2009, 18:01 GMT

    "the product needs to improve. Slow over-rates, drinks breaks, stoppages for rain and bad light, intrusions by servants dressed as 12th men, changing the ball, and all the other delaying tactics ought to be abolished. At all times the game must go on. Shelter, transport, entertainment and refreshments ought to be provided for hard-pressed and often insulted spectators. Cricket is competing in a marketplace and needs to take its public into account" - why couldn't Roebuck practice what he is preaching now when he was playing for and captaining Somerset and Devon, instead of being one of the worst exponents of these tactics.

    On a broader front I look forward to the day when Ireland, or indeed Serbia, beat England in a test match at Lords.

  • Sportsscientist on November 6, 2009, 16:49 GMT

    Rezaul, I understand your frustration at people comparing Ireland to Bangladesh - they should not. Instead of comparing and judging these smaller countries should get mor help. South africa and Zimbabwe should help kenya, India/pakistan should help bangladesh & england should help Ireland. The more test nations - the bigger cricket grows - the more finance for everyone. You are incorrect though when you say Ireland has no infrastructure. The only thing Ireland does not have is organised 3&4 day cricket. If you research you will see that their U.19's have been at the last few world cups & done very well. The ICL comparison also is not valid . These players cannot take up "Indian" residencey so easily. Irish born players who are successful in county cricket can be selected to play for England immediately - even if england use them for a few international matches Ireland cannot use them again for 4 years. that is a handicap. The banned ICL players still maintain their bangladeshi status

  • lale311 on November 6, 2009, 15:54 GMT

    I'm a cricket lover from Serbia. Here is my take on the issue

    The problem with spreading cricket in continental Europe is the lack of tv coverage. Cricket appeared on tv only for the T20 World cup and T20 C L. Even this small exposure produced a profound effect. There were 2 cricket clubs in Serbia before, now there are 6 and more are on the way.

    Here are my suggestions for the ICC to expand cricket to Europe.

    Find a way to televise the sport outside the UK, in the whole of Europe. The experiment with American football worked. Lots of people watch it on Sunday evenings.

    Finance coaching programs, and distribute equipment to local clubs.

    Introduce the football system. Everybody missed the point that you have Internationals and Friendlies in football. So an australian or indian side can come to Europe and play games which will not be registered in any statistics.

    NSW or the Cape Cobras could go on tour in Europe in July and August, and play a dozen T20s.

  • StaalBurgher on November 6, 2009, 15:40 GMT

    I would love to see the Irish players play for Ireland. Perhaps England might be forced to produce their own for a change instead of poaching them from elsewhere.

  • ww113 on November 6, 2009, 15:25 GMT

    Kenya beat the West Indies in the 1996 World Cup.They got to the semi finals in 2003.Yet they were given very little additional exposure.The question remains,even if new countries are given test status,will the established countries be willing to host them ?

  • kantipur on November 6, 2009, 11:42 GMT

    Why should Ireland suffer from the bad performances by Bangladesh. Everybody knows why Bangladesh was given test status which was mainly to increase the Asian voting . Bangladesh at that point of time haven't done anything to get test status. Gorden Greenidge the then coach also was against for granting test status.

    Ireland case is different. They have been playing well for last 4-5 years. They have been top of the tree for intercontinental cup. I believe they haven't lost even single match inter continental cup since 2004. They have been dominating the lower division like Australia used to do in the top division. So what next? Should they be kept stuck on the lower division. Will we ever see another test playing country ?

    If they are not given a test status then it would be a tragedy and there would be a mass exodus of players of Ireland to England because they will lose hope.

    Play a test match between Bangladesh and Ireland and I can guarantee you that Ireland will win.

  • Cross_Bat on November 6, 2009, 10:15 GMT

    I think it would be great for cricket. Ireland are in a better situation than Bangladesh were when they were admitted as Ireland have players who have played international and County cricket. They should be given full status before all of their players leave to play elsewhere.

    Also, all of the players who have played for England recently should be allowed to play for Ireland on granting of full status without a re-qualification period. Ireland may not be able to mix it with South Africa, Australia and India but they could win against the West Indies, Zimbabwe, Bangladesh and be competitive against New Zealand.

    All good for cricket.

  • TMS8137 on November 6, 2009, 5:30 GMT

    I completely agree. It would be better for the game. But one request can we stop comparing cricket to football. The comparison is ludicrous. For starters whatever football game is played in professional level the duration of the game is consistent. You don't see them play 15/15. But Test cricket and cricket on a whole would benefit if all formats were split into 2 divisions with relegation. With championships every 4 years. The top 4 teams based on standing over the 4 years contest 1 off semi's and finals. Get rid of the world cups. This move would provide interest for every match as they would all be important. it would increase competition and hence interest and viewership.

  • Natx on November 6, 2009, 5:18 GMT

    Before even considering about test status, it is not a bad idea to invite teams like Bangladesh, Zimbabwe, and emerging teams like Ireland to participate in 3-4 day matches in other countries like Sheffild field, county and ranji trophy to see how they perform for a year or two. By then, test matches will vanish from the ICC calendar anyway and the likes of Lalit Modi will run their own ICCs and there will be 100s of 20/20s played everywhere in 2012. Countries like Ireland, Zimbabwe, and Bangladesh will be the only "Test" quality teams by then and can easily claim test status without any competition. Players everywhere are more worried about money nowadays than anything and I seriously doubt anyone talking about test matches in year 2015 except probably England and Australia. God save cricket from the idiots like Lalit Modi for the sake for true cricket loving public all over the world.

  • smudgeon on November 6, 2009, 3:32 GMT

    I would love to see Ireland getting a chance to become a full test playing nation - but perhaps first give them a chance to develop a strong team that can move beyond the giant-killing performances we've seen, otherwise there is a possibility we end up with "just another minnow" promoted beyond it's abilities. Perhaps a second-tier competition featuring Ireland & some of the lesser lights of test cricket (as suggested below) will create more of those "meaningful" contests we've been missing...

    I have to admit I do I love the idea of having test series between Ireland & England - bugger the Ashes!

    But all in good time.

  • Rezaul on November 6, 2009, 3:08 GMT

    Remember, at one stage Bangladesh lost almost full team to the ICL and all of sudden they had to field a completely new team against NZL. You remember the result, they won first ODI and almost own both of next two ODIs only to miss by lack of experience. Same thing happened to tests as well. Bangladesh was in complete control through out the first four days at Chittagong only to lose at the end by a close margin. Look at current team, won fourth series in a row. For the last year and half world#1 all rounder is a 22 year boy from Bangladesh ahead of all the super stars. Moreover, for almost a year 2 bowlers at the top 10 are from Bangladesh. Remember, the way they thrashed SL in tri series at last game in only 25 overs which was required to make them final. Now Ireland, they won 1 ODI and 1 T20 against B'desh. Did you see their tour to Dhaka where they thrashed heavily in every match. So their wins were one off.They need to improve all sectors significantly to get elite level promotion

  • Rezaul on November 6, 2009, 2:54 GMT

    I do not understand why there are so much emotions involved in Ireland's application for test status. They do not have a class cricket league, no school cricket, no basic cricket infrastructure and no potential population which could work as a potential backbone. Now they have couple of mid level players who left them for their own sake. Does this emotional case demands to be treated so seriously that they have to be awarded test level otherwise they will lose more players. Is it like a son is crying to his mom and betting that if she does not give him a brand new bike then he wouldnt be able to go to school. Interesting story but lacking genuine facts and credentials. In order to get test status and elite level promotion you have to have a crop of quality players not just 2/3. Some of the guys pointed to Bangladesh along with Peter Roebuck which I completely disagree with. (to be cont. in next comment)

  • nafzak on November 6, 2009, 2:05 GMT

    NZ took 25 years to win. Did we hear any voices complaining that NZ should not have been iven test status? No! 3 reasons why. 1. Race 2. NZ played a lot less than B/Desh is playing today and 3. These days, TV and general media exposes the good, the bad and the ugly quickly, loudly and widely. B/desh is 1 or 2 good fast bowler from having a real break through. Shakib Al Hassan is rated among teh best all rounder in all forms of the game. Race is always a factor in talks of 2 or 3 tiers for tests. That is why we never heard such talks when NZ or England had terrible patches. Sure, few want to talk about it or admit it. If you add Ireland, then a Test Championship would be necessary and the days of tours with 7 ODI's should stop (Aus playing 7 ODI's against India & recently played 7 against Eng). Why not 5 /3/3 (Tests/ODIs/T/20s) for WI, AUS, IND, NZ, SA, ENG & PAK. 3/3/3 for BANG and IRE and in the year leading up to the WC make it 3/5/3. Get rid of the Champion ODI tournament.

  • rohanbala on November 6, 2009, 1:17 GMT

    While one would accept the fact that teams like Ireland need to be recognised by ICC and given Test status and expand the base of Test playing Nations, there is no real point in this exercise at a time when the shorter and shortest versions of the game has gained significant momentum (mainly due to revenue point of view, viz. more money within a short span of time or play less and earn more). Unless ICC gives more importance to Test matches, adding more teams and keeping them in cold storage will serve no real purpose.

  • Pteris on November 6, 2009, 1:15 GMT

    My thoughts are we need to have multi-divisions in the Intercontinental cup with promotion and demotion. There would be a premier division, initially the current test playing countries, and a second division in which teams play 5-day tests. The questions are how many in each division especially the top one. If a country can win the 'second' division should they be automatically promoted or should they have to have a minimal number of test ready facilities as determned by Andy Atkinson, Dave Richardson, etc. I feel that what is needed is promotional leagues for both ODIs, which exists up to point, and the longer form of the game.

  • sipower on November 6, 2009, 0:01 GMT

    I think the point here is that Ireland have been performing well at all age levels for a number of years. Consistent performance at international level means we have the right to ask the question ..... "How do we get to the next step?" There have been many negative comments about what Ireland lack on this board ... fair enough .... we're top of the associates - give us a list of things we need to do to get to the next level and we will do them and come back and knock on the door again. This seems to be the approach and I agree with it ....... as for "no tradition" I would beg to differ ... I also fully support Bangladesh .. I dont see it as an us or them. Overall saying "we want to play this sport, we want to play it as well as we can and we are ready to invest in it" seems like it deserves a positive response from the ICC ......

    In the event of a negative response from the ICC it should be interesting to see Irelands performances in the "already qualified for" competitions next year

  • ian_whitchurch on November 5, 2009, 23:01 GMT

    Rony,

    They arent going to get that unless people play them. Thats the important bit right now - more first-class cricket for Ireland.

    And grounds - pitch quality is over-rated ... was the MCG in the 1980s really a Test-quality strip ?

  • Chase_HQ on November 5, 2009, 22:47 GMT

    you're right - they should be a member. they should start by playing the worst sides - Bang, Zim - get used to competing against them, and then have a crack at the more variable sides - NZ, WI, Eng and Pak. Perhaps there should be a bell shaped system in which teams who are closest together on points play each other more frequently, with an orderly decline depending how far apart you are. I think a similar method is used to define a leaderboard in the context of online computer gaming, using bayesian estimation. Aparently it converges on a ranking extremely quickly - this could add excitement to test cricket if an award was made at the end of each 4 years...???

  • Paddycricket on November 5, 2009, 22:36 GMT

    This is a very relevant article. How should the present structure brake away from its postcolonial attidudes and sources of money. There are many dusty pictures to be cleaned up in the Long Room. Some of the old photos are pictures of Irish cricketers with names like Gwynn and O'Brien. Perhaps the Lords needs a dose of salts to realise this. WGG brought many teams to Dublin. Once, he was bowled out for 0 - no stats on this - the Irish bowler was afronted by WGG, who said something like this to the bowler - " Look here chappie, the crowd came here to see me bat, not to see you bowl". WGG stayed; the bowler survived and became a bishop later in life, and I knew his grandchildren. WGG came to Dublin, and was defeated. He chose to ignore this and stayed at the crease. Is this how the Irish are to be treated in the future? So come on Bangla, Zim, Kenya, Ireland, perhaps USA and Holland - NZ & WI are A-level - two leagues - Please. Lets break this postcolonialism!

  • randomspaces on November 5, 2009, 21:06 GMT

    I'd like to see Ireland get full member status, which is really all they're asking about, not for. They're not demanding that they be allowed to play Test cricket, more to be considered a country that has individuals committed to be able to play. I also think that it might give them some protection from England, if all their best players get poached, even for a game or two, then they will struggle to field a competitive side. Boyd Rankin recently said he wants to play Test cricket and that he'll probably have to play for England, the desire is clearly there, they just need to see that the oppurtunity will be as well.

  • dudeoverthere on November 5, 2009, 20:13 GMT

    I agree on principle with this. Ireland can do no more than what they have done as an associate and the process needs to be cleared up for how they can make the next step. Not only are they undefeated in 4 day cricket since 2004, but their youth structure is pretty strong. The lack of first class game in Ireland is probably more a byproduct of a large group of Irishmen going to the counties for oppurtunities. The ICC need to take this seriously, or else in 5 or so years time Ireland could have totally dropped off after being plundered by England.

    They waited too long in Kenya and they collapsed on themselves. ICC cant lose sight of that. They rushed the Bangas in, but people are just impatient with their criticism of them.

    ICC should set up a blue print for the Irish, and then once granting them status, ease them in. Don't have them playing test series against India, South Africa or Australia. Start them off against England for the market value and have them playing NZ, Pakis and co

  • NSUrockr on November 5, 2009, 18:54 GMT

    Irelands application should be considered seriously. Theres no doubt about that.

    But first some things such as how many people follow the sport, Number of Cricketers, Do they have school cricket? Level of awareness about the game in the country? what kind of fanbase do they have etc might come into consideration When Bangladesh got test cricket people even in Bangladesh were surprised, and even locals debated among themselves about the merit. but have no doubt about the momentum it created in bringing young players to think about going professional. Before that only sports families and kids with no future in education were inspired to play professionally. Some1 was talkn about Ireland bein bettr than Bangladesh! that was a stupid comment to say the least (some ranga chick!) Bangladesh have beaten teams like Australia, India, South Africa, Srilanka, Pakistan and New Zealand. Theyve just whitewashed West Indies in Indies in both ODI and Test series...in Indies and have thrashed Zim

  • inswing on November 5, 2009, 18:22 GMT

    The problem is not just the stats, but the fact that it creates many one-sided games that will cause further decline in the popularity of tests and one days. Who wants to see England vs. Bangladesh 3 test series? Who will want to see Pakistan vs. Ireland 3 test series after the initial novelty wears off? A soccer game is a matter of 2 hours. Some one-sided games don't hurt anyone. In cricket you have month-long tours with each game lasting 5 days. Try arranging one month Brazil tour of Man of Isles with 20 games, and you will hear complaints. One sided games that go on for ever are terrible advertisement. Good contests on good pitches are essential if you want to save Test and ODI cricket. One solution is to have an official 2-tire system with bang, ireland, and zim (with perhaps B teams of test nations) in it. The winner of a 3-year cycle gets a conditional test status for 2 years. If they get certain % of draws/wins against test nations they get legit test status.

  • RomanNoseJob on November 5, 2009, 17:31 GMT

    I can't say I regularly agree with you, Peter, but you've fired off a number of points here that have hit the nail squarely on the head. Particularly about the sanctity of test cricket being over-regarded. For a start, Bangladesh, who usually take the brunt of the naysayers complaints seem to forget that India, Sri Lanka and New Zealand (NZ in particular who waited some 25 years to win a match) all went through similar long stretches of struggling.If Ireland were to become a test nation, I would hope that the ICC learn the lessons from Bangladesh and keep them playing relatively few tests in the beginning, building up to a full schedule (bangladesh played 9 in their first year, far too many) over time. But aslong as the structure and funding are there and the team is proving itself strong amongst associate nations any team applying should be given test status.

  • pozx on November 5, 2009, 16:49 GMT

    I dont understand why is everyone so concerned about expanding the memebership. well, ya ICC should try its best to expand the membership, but dont rush in these teams too early...besides has anyone given thought to saving cricket where it has been played. just comparing the current ten teams u will easily notice the state in which bangladesh, zimbabawe, westindies teams are and that makes upto 30% of the test playng nations......ICC should first save test cricket in these nations and then only consider expanding its territories.......cause a home made of weak walls will surely fall in earthquake.

  • NickHughes on November 5, 2009, 16:33 GMT

    Well, apart from waiting until the second paragraph to read the inevitable bit of England bashing (please, Peter, it's getting boring) I think the article glosses over some problems with allowing Ireland test status. Will the crowds support first class and test cricket in a way that will make Irish cricket financially sound? Is there depth in playing talent not just now, but in 5 or 10 years time? I would like to see a first class structure in place first for a few years before fast tracking Ireland to test status. In hindsight, rushing Bangladesh into test cricket was a mistake and it needed developing first.

  • cricket-vid on November 5, 2009, 15:04 GMT

    Yes lets let anyone who wishes to play Test Cricket play. Let the Chinese team have full membership! Why not - a lot of the above comments still apply. Its not about the stats - its about cricket being played at its very best level. "Hiding" teams from getting hammered is just covering up the reasons they shouldn't be playing. Bangladesh getting smashed game after game by their opponents for almost a decade doesn't do anything for the game. A team needs to earn its right - Bangladesh was hurried in too early - had patients been exercised and suitable programs put in place I beleive they would be a much better team today. Yes Ireland are to be encouraged - but Test cricket is too bigger step too soon. To be the successful underdog is one thing, to play thegame professionally day in day out with consistent results is another.

  • 2.14istherunrate on November 5, 2009, 14:53 GMT

    There is a saying-grab the iron while it is hot. The Irish iron is very hot. The authorities let it cool at their own peril. In 2000 there was a sort of choice between Kenya ( a good team) and Bangladesh( a less good team);the consequences of choosing Bangladesh over \Kenya have been farcical to say the least as match after match the Bangladeshis have produced the same sort of scorecard, and tried to play international cricket without the slightest acquaintance withtthe forward defensive shot. Not only this but the Kenyans have gone off the boil and been forgotten. They will do this with ireland too if they are not goaded into action.At least the irish would whip the Bangladeshis backsides at tests and when Zim return probably theirs too. As i write this actually conclude that ireland and Kenya should get full status and hang the consequences. They could not do worse than B'desh.

  • ranga_s on November 5, 2009, 14:15 GMT

    Ireland is a better team than Bangladesh, Zimbabwe and on their day even now they can beat cricket giants like Australia,South Africa and India and moreover top teams like Sri Lanka and Pakistan...Atleast they hould be given the nod be allowed to play against countries like Bangladesh and Zimbabwe and may be even time and again against West Indies and so on and so forth...They'll be good....that's for sure..but england won't like the idea coz 1/3 of them are Irish and 1/3 are South African....So if Ireland is given test status and they leave that's a sight to see.....

  • ian_whitchurch on November 5, 2009, 14:00 GMT

    Lord Sheffield showed us the way - send teams out there, to play all comers in serious games. Maybe the locals win, and maybe they dont - but give them the opportunity to play.

    The way not to do it is shown by the recent alleged Australian tour of England and Scotland - one pathetic one day game against Scotland, and thus no opportunity for fringe players to show maybe they can bat or bowl, and no opportunity for Scots to earn their spurs against Australia.

    I can say no more of the alleged Scottish leg of that tour but to say it was weak, and it was gutless, and it was not to the benefit of this great game of cricket.

    Bluntly, if you're in England for a game or two, there's no reason not to phone the Scots or the Irish and ask if they have a long weekend free for a three- or four-day game.

    Finally, if you're team that has drinkers, ask them to put on a pint or three after the game. If your team has non-drinkers, do it anyway - I'm sure they can find some sarsparilla.

  • saoodhamid on November 5, 2009, 13:08 GMT

    i reckon icc should keep an eye on performence of irland's performance for some particular duration before awarding them this status!

  • ww113 on November 5, 2009, 13:02 GMT

    In effect, a two tier system is already in place in Test Cricket.Look at how often India,Australia,South Africa and England play each other.In no small part is this system based on financial considerations.On the other hand,Pakistan and Sri Lanka do not get many opportunities.The world of Test Cricket is small enough.Watching the same sides play again and again gets repetitive and tiresome.

  • avssrs on November 5, 2009, 12:30 GMT

    Agree with you Peter. I too find the"it will ruin the stats" argument extremely annoying. Who cares about stats? Why should we care about the stats?

    Pele scored over a 1000 goals (and I wonder what % of football fans know exactly how many he scored and how many of those were international) and we don't ever add that some of these goals were scored against minnow nations. A 1000 goals are a 1000 goals, that's it.

    Cricket should learn from this. It doesn't matter if Tendulkar's average is 55 or that he scored 40 centuries. All that matters is that he has been a prolific scorer, a great ambassador for the sport, and put smiles on the faces of compatriots, especially those who have been dealt a harsh hand by life. Doesn't matter if 500 of those runs come against Ireland or Bangladesh. And for those who think that it does matter, I'm just happy that I'm not you and I hope you live to see the day when Ireland or Bangladesh stuff your team in a one-sided Test.

  • WindiesCity on November 5, 2009, 12:19 GMT

    I wish I could count on seeing USA cricket get test status in my lifetime, but alas if they won't let Ireland in...

  • jgohil on November 5, 2009, 12:03 GMT

    I don't think Ireland deserves to be a Test Match. Test cricket is a dying form of cricket and only comes alive when top nations are playing against each other (India, Australia, South Africa) and the Ashes. Who is going to watch Ireland play India for example when the match will be over in 3 days?

  • Sportsscientist on November 5, 2009, 11:56 GMT

    If Ireland do not get test status soon they will forever become the nursery for the ECB. Loosing Eion Morgan & Ed Joyce is bad enough (Incidnetly Ed may get a repreive if Englnd don't pick him in the next 18 months) but Boyd Rankin must have frightened them to death. To loose an international fast bowler....after all good fast bowlers do not come every year - they must protect their investments. As peter has pointed out, something I am aware of as a follower of county cricket, so many young Irish cricketers are with counties/university academies & devlopment squads.

    Many Bangladesh sympathisers are constantly upset by people making comparisions, but if you do not live in the UK you are not aware of this. With no test status the ECB will just farm the good ones and leave Ireland high & dry. I am not joining the "lets criticise Bangladesh" mob....I welcome bangladesh. I am pointing out the Irish problem is unique because of the residency rules for Irish (And scottish) players.

  • IPLFan on November 5, 2009, 11:35 GMT

    Before cricket spreads wide, it should expand the depth. Which means removing this limit of 11 players per nation who are able to play at the highest level. let's face it, you are far more likely to find talented players in New South Wales, Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore and Capetown than in Ireland or Canada. Which means give Test status to these state teams first. Allow a dozen teams to play Tests from india, 4-5 from Australia. And then we can think of adding more Test nations.

  • maehara on November 5, 2009, 11:25 GMT

    I wrote about splitting Test cricket into two tiers back in 2006 (http://sandbox.zimcricketnews.com/2006/07/20/reforming-the-test-cricket-playing-structure) - nice to see the idea finally getting some traction. An absolute pre-requisite for this, though, is that the traditional "top 8" must not be protected in any new multi-tier setup - they should be eligible for relegation and promotion along with everyone else. With those sides holding an effective veto on any new format being introduced, though, I don't hold out much hope of that happening.

    As for Ireland... Good for them. They've gone as far as they can as an Associate side, and need now for the ICC to give them the roadmap they need to get to the next level. I hope the ICC treat their application with the seriousness it deserves, and that in five years time we'll be seeing Test cricket in Dublin and Belfast.

  • mattinbgn on November 5, 2009, 11:08 GMT

    Not often I agree with you Peter but I do here. The preciousness about Test cricket (which I love) is stifling. If Ireland want to play Test cricket and other nations want to play against them, then why should we stop them. If they get beaten, so what? Someone has to lose. If it "ruins the stats" then too bad.Why does the ICC see its role as a gatekeeper rather than as an enabler.

    Your little dig at the West Indies at the end was gratuitious, however, and does you no credit. The Windies are greater than the sum of their parts and they will be back.

  • JackMacl on November 5, 2009, 11:03 GMT

    To help the game survive, we need to spread it out across the world. Making Ireland a full nation would make more cricketers from them as they have a bigger goal. It would also inspire other countries to get their acts together.

  • kantipur on November 5, 2009, 10:39 GMT

    My advise is make a three tier. In this way ireland can be protected from getting hammering from the top side for first few years. And later on they should graduate to upper tier. There should be no relegation though.

    Tier 1- Australia, South Africa, India , Pakistan, England, Sri Lanka

    Tier 2- Bangladesh, New Zealand and West Indies

    Tier 3- Zimbabwe and Ireland

    Tier 1 team can play test matches with other team from Tier 1 and Tier 2 Tier 2 can play test matches with Tier 1 , Tier 2 and Tier 3 teams Tier 3 can play test matches with Tier 2 and Tier 3

  • SirWilliam on November 5, 2009, 10:38 GMT

    Bob Cowper was a wonderful player. 46.84 is an average worth remembering.

  • Krycek on November 5, 2009, 10:17 GMT

    Interesting article Peter and I agree on some points, but you don't even mention the women's game. Surely it would be better to raise the status and popularity of women's cricket in the established Test playing nations before trying to include more men's teams from all over the world.

    Besides that, you point out that most of the next tier cricket nations don't have established first class competitions. These are the very foundation of Test cricket and it would be foolish to contemplate introducing new Test teams until these nations can beat first class teams from England or Australia (for example).

  • NeilCameron on November 5, 2009, 9:59 GMT

    Before Ireland gains Test status, they need to prove beyond reasonable doubt that they are strong enough to compete with "the big boys". This would involve a national Irish team playing first class matches against quality opposition over a decent period of time. Having Ireland compete in the Sheffield Shield every southern summer would be interesting way to do this - four day and one-day cricket against Australian state sides would provide the team with some hard experiences. Similarly, Irish sides representing provinces (Leinster, Munster, Connacht, Ulster) playing in an expanded English county championship would also help.

  • SoftwareStar on November 5, 2009, 7:56 GMT

    i dont think so Mr. Roebuck.. having multiple divisions in test cricket is just not feasible. What we need right now is certainly not Ireland getting hammered by the major nations. They need to prove their worth for a couple more years before playing tests.

    PS - the article is too long and kinda boring (probably since its not about a major cricket playing nation)

  • srini701 on November 5, 2009, 7:14 GMT

    Absolutely wonderfully and beautifully written :-) Couldn't agree more with you when you say "Does anyone care that much about Ken Barrington's average? Or Bob Cowper's"....cricket unfortunately continues to be in the clutches and control of a handful of nations and its advances/development stalled by blinkered administrators. It's time the game spread its wings. There are the various championships for non-Test playing countries but "Test" cricket is the real thing. Deserving nations should start getting Test status. You have outlined a nice plan like Test championships and two or three-tiers with promotions and relegation. The administrators (read ICC) should start looking at this more seriously if they really want to promote the game and keep it healthy, but will they? I really, really doubt it.

  • tfjones1978 on November 5, 2009, 7:06 GMT

    I fully agree with what Peter Roebeck has said. I recommend ICC accept Irelands application (& they start in 2011) and form a two tier competition of 6 teams per tier over 2 years with relegation & promotion (both division & Associate level) every 2 years starting Jan 2013. The Associate top performer of 4 day, 50 over & 20 over should be the 12th team. The compeition should involve ALL 3 formats of the game, playing home & away series (eg: 2-3 tests, 3-5 ODI & 1-3 T20) with max of (eg) 20 points for a clean sweep of a series. ICC should also replace the ICC World Cricket League with a WCL that includes all 3 formats, where a team to perform must be successful in all 3 formats (with higher points for 4-5 day cricket). Champions League should be only 1 (top) first class team from each (12) test country, and top Associate first class team from each region (6). Champions League should be alternate between 4 day, 50 over & 20 over cricket, with 4th year (World Cup year) off.

  • Nipun on November 5, 2009, 6:29 GMT

    If Ireland is indeed awarded test status,then a 2nd division must be introduced immediately,where they,Bangladesh,Zimbabwe,West Indies,& New Zealand will fight it out.But will these 2nd division matches also called "Test" matches,the same status that an India-Australia,or a SA-Australia battle carries ??? SHAME ON CRICKET THEN !!!

  • DreamsNeverDie on November 5, 2009, 6:17 GMT

    I agree about the two-tier system Peter. Nice article. Obviously gives us some food for thought, although I am not quite sure whether NOW wuld be the right time to grant Ithe Irish test status. On another note, it is ridiculous how England seem to cherry pick the best talents in Ireland and Scotland. Joyce, Morgan, Peter Such, Gavin Hamilton, not to speak of the myriad of Kolapk SA players they have in every squad of theirs. If Ireland keep losing their best players, how will it improve their competitiveness? And it is not like England are giving these players a ling run in the team either...Joyce was booted out after 30 odd odi's and morgan will go down the same route. Hamilton, just the one test. Instead of poaching these players to make up for their own inept youth system, England should let these Irish players play for their own country and the ICC must get more stringent about this whole switiching countries thing.

  • rony1008 on November 5, 2009, 5:55 GMT

    "It's high time Ireland's victories over superior opponents were regarded as more than flukes" - Not sure Ireland has done enough to get a test status. I regard Ireland team very highly, but as far as I remember Ireland has won single ODI and T20 against Bangladesh and an ODI against Pakistan who had horrendous WC campaign. With all these talks about Bangladesh getting undeserved test status, we do not need another team like that. Although I do feel that all this talk against Bangladesh is not always fair. They have already beaten most of the superior teams in ODI. In fact after loosing to Bangladesh, the invincibility of the Australian team has somewhat faded away. And they almost beat the Australians in a test match in Bangladesh. And not many countries has the same crowd support, not even the bigger nations. IMHO, Ireland needs to get few more wins, possibly one or more against bigger nations.

  • nskaile on November 5, 2009, 5:50 GMT

    awesome article and ur right, we surely deserve to be the 11th test team. its sad tht we are keep loosing our best players to england or we could have a much better team

  • Dragon_7654 on November 5, 2009, 5:40 GMT

    Nice article. Hopefully some key people in the ICC are thinking along the same lines... it would be great for Test Cricket if there was a test championship and a tiered system with hungry teams like Ireland with decent track records in the 4-day version making up a lower tier.

  • ChrisH on November 5, 2009, 5:10 GMT

    Does Roebuck do any research? I take it nobody bothered to tell him that baseball already has 3-inning games. In fact baseball has as many innings as the the two teams want which is usually 6-9 innings but there are games that are shorter and longer (there is even a 100 inning game).

    Plus Roebuck seems to be very unaware of the unofficial tier system that exists in football. He mentions Brazil playing the Isle of Man but I'm sure neither he nor anybody else could recall the last time Brazil ever played against the Isle of Man or when England played Rwanda or when France played the Solomon Islands. Big teams play each other in the supposedly "equal" sport of football far more often than they play the weaker, lesser teams. Roebuck also has inherent contradictions in his article in lauding the supposedly equal nature of football (Brazil v. Isle of Man) and then calling for two and three divisions in test cricket - how is that equal?

    I wonder if cricinfo will dare publish my post?

  • faforce on November 5, 2009, 5:10 GMT

    It's a great start. I agree that more countries should start playing test cricket and there is a need to have more divisions.

  • SuperGLS on November 5, 2009, 4:25 GMT

    Agree with most everything here. Many people are worried that allowing new teams can only be bad... too many negative minded cricket fans out there!

  • Iron-Haggis on November 5, 2009, 4:06 GMT

    Ireland should definitely be given Test status. There is enough evidence to suggest that Ireland are capable of producing good homegrown players such as Joyce, Morgan and Rankin. Plus undoubtedly if they were given Test status I'm sure their ranks would be boosted even more by Australian, South African and even English players with some sort obscure Irish ancestry. One thing that could help Ireland prepare for Test cricket is for example going to Australia and playing the State sides. Tougher opposition than the associates and a good stepping stone into Test cricket.

  • No featured comments at the moment.

  • Iron-Haggis on November 5, 2009, 4:06 GMT

    Ireland should definitely be given Test status. There is enough evidence to suggest that Ireland are capable of producing good homegrown players such as Joyce, Morgan and Rankin. Plus undoubtedly if they were given Test status I'm sure their ranks would be boosted even more by Australian, South African and even English players with some sort obscure Irish ancestry. One thing that could help Ireland prepare for Test cricket is for example going to Australia and playing the State sides. Tougher opposition than the associates and a good stepping stone into Test cricket.

  • SuperGLS on November 5, 2009, 4:25 GMT

    Agree with most everything here. Many people are worried that allowing new teams can only be bad... too many negative minded cricket fans out there!

  • faforce on November 5, 2009, 5:10 GMT

    It's a great start. I agree that more countries should start playing test cricket and there is a need to have more divisions.

  • ChrisH on November 5, 2009, 5:10 GMT

    Does Roebuck do any research? I take it nobody bothered to tell him that baseball already has 3-inning games. In fact baseball has as many innings as the the two teams want which is usually 6-9 innings but there are games that are shorter and longer (there is even a 100 inning game).

    Plus Roebuck seems to be very unaware of the unofficial tier system that exists in football. He mentions Brazil playing the Isle of Man but I'm sure neither he nor anybody else could recall the last time Brazil ever played against the Isle of Man or when England played Rwanda or when France played the Solomon Islands. Big teams play each other in the supposedly "equal" sport of football far more often than they play the weaker, lesser teams. Roebuck also has inherent contradictions in his article in lauding the supposedly equal nature of football (Brazil v. Isle of Man) and then calling for two and three divisions in test cricket - how is that equal?

    I wonder if cricinfo will dare publish my post?

  • Dragon_7654 on November 5, 2009, 5:40 GMT

    Nice article. Hopefully some key people in the ICC are thinking along the same lines... it would be great for Test Cricket if there was a test championship and a tiered system with hungry teams like Ireland with decent track records in the 4-day version making up a lower tier.

  • nskaile on November 5, 2009, 5:50 GMT

    awesome article and ur right, we surely deserve to be the 11th test team. its sad tht we are keep loosing our best players to england or we could have a much better team

  • rony1008 on November 5, 2009, 5:55 GMT

    "It's high time Ireland's victories over superior opponents were regarded as more than flukes" - Not sure Ireland has done enough to get a test status. I regard Ireland team very highly, but as far as I remember Ireland has won single ODI and T20 against Bangladesh and an ODI against Pakistan who had horrendous WC campaign. With all these talks about Bangladesh getting undeserved test status, we do not need another team like that. Although I do feel that all this talk against Bangladesh is not always fair. They have already beaten most of the superior teams in ODI. In fact after loosing to Bangladesh, the invincibility of the Australian team has somewhat faded away. And they almost beat the Australians in a test match in Bangladesh. And not many countries has the same crowd support, not even the bigger nations. IMHO, Ireland needs to get few more wins, possibly one or more against bigger nations.

  • DreamsNeverDie on November 5, 2009, 6:17 GMT

    I agree about the two-tier system Peter. Nice article. Obviously gives us some food for thought, although I am not quite sure whether NOW wuld be the right time to grant Ithe Irish test status. On another note, it is ridiculous how England seem to cherry pick the best talents in Ireland and Scotland. Joyce, Morgan, Peter Such, Gavin Hamilton, not to speak of the myriad of Kolapk SA players they have in every squad of theirs. If Ireland keep losing their best players, how will it improve their competitiveness? And it is not like England are giving these players a ling run in the team either...Joyce was booted out after 30 odd odi's and morgan will go down the same route. Hamilton, just the one test. Instead of poaching these players to make up for their own inept youth system, England should let these Irish players play for their own country and the ICC must get more stringent about this whole switiching countries thing.

  • Nipun on November 5, 2009, 6:29 GMT

    If Ireland is indeed awarded test status,then a 2nd division must be introduced immediately,where they,Bangladesh,Zimbabwe,West Indies,& New Zealand will fight it out.But will these 2nd division matches also called "Test" matches,the same status that an India-Australia,or a SA-Australia battle carries ??? SHAME ON CRICKET THEN !!!

  • tfjones1978 on November 5, 2009, 7:06 GMT

    I fully agree with what Peter Roebeck has said. I recommend ICC accept Irelands application (& they start in 2011) and form a two tier competition of 6 teams per tier over 2 years with relegation & promotion (both division & Associate level) every 2 years starting Jan 2013. The Associate top performer of 4 day, 50 over & 20 over should be the 12th team. The compeition should involve ALL 3 formats of the game, playing home & away series (eg: 2-3 tests, 3-5 ODI & 1-3 T20) with max of (eg) 20 points for a clean sweep of a series. ICC should also replace the ICC World Cricket League with a WCL that includes all 3 formats, where a team to perform must be successful in all 3 formats (with higher points for 4-5 day cricket). Champions League should be only 1 (top) first class team from each (12) test country, and top Associate first class team from each region (6). Champions League should be alternate between 4 day, 50 over & 20 over cricket, with 4th year (World Cup year) off.