June 3, 2013

Ireland yearn for Test recognition

Ger Siggins
The top Associate team have big ambitions of playing five-day cricket, but without a clear pathway to the next level, their players are growing frustrated
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Ireland went into their first World Cup match in 2007 as an almost-unknown entity. They had played just one ODI against a Full Member and were seen as yet more Associate cannon fodder to bulk out the early rounds of a bloated competition. But that first fixture, against Zimbabwe, ended in a thrilling tie and 48 hours later a win over Pakistan propelled the Irish into the Super Eights and the game in the Emerald Isle to new heights of publicity and popularity.

Wind the clock forwards six years and Ireland have again tied with a Full Member in a game which went to the last ball. But while Sabina Park saw unconfined joy and a lap of honour, the faces of the Irish team at Clontarf last week were downcast. "It feels like a defeat, to be honest", said Kevin O'Brien, whose pyrotechnics with the bat almost brought victory against Pakistan. "We don't go out to tie games, we go out to win them."

If Irish player expectations have soared, then so too have those of supporters and administrators. Since the 2007 World Cup, Ireland have abandoned English domestic cricket and become kingpin in the Associate world, losing only four games out of 42 in the past three years. This time ten years ago the team was meeting up every weekend for training ahead of a summer fixture list that included games against Duke of Norfolk's XI, Hertfordshire, and Free Foresters. These days the home-based members of the squad are working full-time with Phil Simmons for a summer campaign in which they play against England, Pakistan, Australia A and possibly Bangladesh, while also playing crucial qualifiers for the 50- and 20-over World Cups, from which they expect to progress.

With no more lands to conquer, Cricket Ireland has announced that it will apply for full membership of ICC, with ambitions for Test status by 2020. But without a clear pathway to the next level, full membership - and reluctance on the part of ICC to define, let alone create one after the premature elevation of Bangladesh - Irish players have grown frustrated. Careers are finite and the lure of Test cricket has proved irresistible for some.

Ed Joyce's departure predates Ireland's glory years, but once he realised he was not going to be in England's Test plans he returned to his native land. Eoin Morgan last turned out for Ireland in a World Cup qualifier in April 2009, and a year later made his Test debut against Bangladesh. Sixteen Tests, and two centuries, later he has slipped down England's pecking order. While he is still a giant in the shorter formats, commentators say he is unlikely to figure in five-day games in the foreseeable future. A third Irish star, fast bowler Boyd Rankin, was persuaded to "declare" for England, and this week saw him called into the England one-day squad.

Confronted with this brain and muscle drain - and UK media speculation about upcoming talents George Dockrell and Paul Stirling - Cricket Ireland realised it had to articulate its ambitions to stem this outward flow. Early last year it unveiled a strategic plan, Twenty-Twenty Vision, when chief executive Warren Deutrom announced, "Test cricket is the pinnacle of the sport and something to which we must aspire. As long as it is denied to Ireland we will continue to lose those players that seek that fulfilment. So we must share those same aspirations as they do. If Test cricket is first rate, then any other ambition is merely second rate. With our growing passion of the game and proven track record that would be nothing other than a dereliction of duty.

"Our targets are ambitious. By 2015 we see nothing less than increasing our participation figures to 50,000 (from 15,000), to be the eighth best ODI men's team (currently 11th) and seventh best ODI women's team (currently 10th) in the world, to be recognised as the fourth major team sport in Ireland (ahead of rugby and hockey) and to establish a domestic first-class cricket structure."

Part of this boom is due to rapid growth in the South Asian community. It may not be too long before one of "the New Irish", as they are known, makes the breakthrough to the Ireland set-up

One year on, Deutrom pointed out that the plan was "more than just an iteration of objectives which added a few percentage points onto goals set in the previous four years. It was about a shift of focus and the setting of a vision - a light to guide and inform our actions all the way from 2012 to 2020. The vision is nothing less than striving towards being accepted into cricket's most exclusive club - that of the Test nations."

"We're not that far from England, and Test cricket is buoyant there now, so I think it's why we have been moving so quickly," said national coach Simmons, the former West Indies allrounder. "I look forward to that day, and I look forward to it mainly because that's the only way we are going to stop our players moving to England. You've given them something that a lot of players move to England for -- to play Test cricket. Once we get to that stage, we're going to keep our players and we are going to get stronger."

Wins over Pakistan, England and Bangladesh are all very well, but Irish cricket will need more than a successful national side to be allowed to make the final leap.

Until this summer there was no bridge between club competition and the Ireland side, but that has been addressed with a new RSA inter-provincial series, in Twenty20, 50-over and three-day formats, between the Northern Knights, North-West Warriors and Leinster Lightning. The three unions, centred on Belfast, Derry and Dublin, are where the game is strongest but there are hopes that a Munster franchise, based in Cork, will be able to join a T20 league in the near future. The structure is set to blossom into a first-class competition when the standard is sufficient, perhaps as early as 2015, and on the evidence of the exciting inaugural fixture in the historic Dublin University ground, that won't be long in being satisfied.

Former Ireland seamer Nigel Jones is now a development officer in the Northern Union and plays with Northern Knights. "It's crucial to have a pathway from club to international cricket", he says. "There was talk of making this competition a developmental one, but it's crucial to have it as best versus best. If young players want to play for Ireland they'll first be tested against the best around. While the 20- and 50-over games are our bread and butter internationally, multi-day cricket is going to grow in importance, because that's our ultimate goal."

Club cricket, too, is buoyant, helped by a clutch of government-funded development officers. From being essentially a middle-class game in the Republic two decades ago, it is now played in schools in all areas - the biggest growth area is in the sprawling western suburbs of the capital, where eight new clubs have sprung up since 2007. The sport has also made great strides into the countryside, where it all but died out after independence in 1922. Provincial towns such as Longford, Nenagh and Dundalk have new, thriving clubs and the big city sides have courted players from these outposts.

Part of this boom is due to rapid growth in the South Asian community. It may not be too long before one of "the New Irish", as they are known, makes the breakthrough to the Ireland set-up: recent under-age and development squads feature names such as Ali, Chopra, Uddin, and Singh.

And while there was some sniping at the Boys of 2007, because three of its leading players were Australian and another was from South Africa, such jibes have been largely silenced. Of the 12 who played against Pakistan, only Trent Johnston has no Irish blood - but it would be a brave and foolish man that would accuse him of not being a passionate Irishman.

The conveyor belt of home-grown talent keeps trundling - albeit some of it out of Irish cricket. Already this summer 12 Irishmen have played first-class or List A cricket in England, and half a dozen others at various stages of their development have links with counties. Just around the time the ECB were emailing the media to trumpet their annexing of Rankin, 20-year-old Graeme McCarter (from the same Irish county) was dismissing Simon Katich first ball for Gloucestershire. If Ireland are to reach Test level, it is the likes of McCarter, Craig Young (Sussex), Stuart Thompson (Somerset) and Peter Chase (Durham) who will form the attack.

Pakistan's captain Misbah-ul-Haq was certainly impressed with the current players. Acknowledging that his side had been lucky to escape with a series win, he said: "I think [Ireland] are really an improved side. The way they are improving I think they can compete with any team, any Test playing nation now." Asked if he thought Ireland were better than Bangladesh or Zimbabwe, he replied:"I think they are, especially their batting line-up is good enough. I think they might struggle a little bit in their bowling when they go out of Ireland, but still I think they are a really mature side."

Duetrom also believes his team are up to it, restating his ambitions this week. "We must show our players that we want to aspire to the pinnacle of the game," he said. "We have been at the top of the tree in the Associate countries for five or six years now. We can't afford to just be happy with that and continue on."

In September, England return to Dublin for the opening of the 11,500 capacity National Stadium in Malahide. The venue will tick another box on Irish cricket's slow march to the top table. The game was first played in Dublin in 1730 - but then only in cricket can it take 300 years to to become an overnight success.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Ginson on June 3, 2013, 23:36 GMT

    Ireland thoroughly deserve test cap, the game has picked up new followers and broke into new range of people in this wonderful country. Regular cricket against top nations are a good way to improve the fan base.Lots of new clubs are formed and playing well the 'new south Asian' community are the major pushing factor behind this development. As a player representing Nenagh Cricket Club and an Indian I can really see someone from this community sharing the shamrock greens dressing room sooner or later.

  • SDHM on June 3, 2013, 9:05 GMT

    Basically, the most important thing is to set up a domestic first class competition. Bangladesh have shown that stepping up to Test cricket without one just won't work. Ireland are better placed to be more competitive straight away due to the fact that a lot of their players are involved in county cricket and therefore have experience of playing the longer format to a high level, but the minute they become internationals the contracts would dry up and therefore the quality would go plummeting down without regular top class cricket to hone their skills. It's currently an enormous Catch-22: county cricket is one of the reasons Ireland are competitive, but it is also losing them their players. The ICC & ECB have to help them set up their own first class tournament; do it by regions, like rugby, with maybe a couple of Scottish sides and the Dutch thrown in. It's somewhere to start, at the very least.

  • on June 3, 2013, 8:52 GMT

    15 years ago, Kenya had a vibrant and competitive side. Because the road to the highest level, Test status, was blocked cricket in Kenya has withered and seriously declined. A great opportunity was lost. This must not happen again. Of course Ireland should have Test status and they should not have to wait until 2020. They should be given it now but put on probation before admission to the Future Tours Programme for 5 years. In that time they can play one-off tests against the strongest sides such as South Africa and England and longer series against the weaker sides such as Bangladesh, Zimbabwe and one or two others (which would also benefit the players from those countries having a chance to play in more even contests). If Ireland aren't up to speed (but why shouldn't they with a full strength side?) then extend the probation period for another 5 years. Is that really too hard to organise or are there other vested interests which are the real problem?

  • ReverseSweepRhino on June 3, 2013, 5:40 GMT

    I think the bottom two test teams should be relegated and replaced by the top two teams from the Intercontinental Cup, in a two-yearly cycle. Especially as the ICC and the cricket boards of top teams are looking more and more unlikely to induct more teams into the fray.

  • ThatsJustCricket on June 3, 2013, 3:40 GMT

    ICC needs to do something to stop this player drainage or the associate teams will never be able to compete. There is a rule in place that makes the likes of Joyce wait for 4 years since he last played for England before he can rejoin Ireland, why cant that work the other way? If an Irish player who has played an international fixture for Ireland has to wait the same number of years before he can play for, say, England, that will halt this unfortunate business.

  • virendra_s on June 5, 2013, 16:58 GMT

    Is anybody aware if Bangladesh is going to Tour Ireland in near future . If yes when?

  • on June 4, 2013, 22:39 GMT

    @Ashiqur Rahman Why not? Most of the players come through Ireland's age group cricket then finish off in county cricket. As Gavbergin says, most of Irelands footballers come through the English system so why not the cricketers FIFA still recognise them, why can't the ICC.

    @ygkd I think the Irish, Scots and Dutch should work together and set up a FC\ListA\T20 competition. Two groups of 6 each group contains two teams from one of the afore mentioned nations. top two from each group plays semi finals then final.

  • gavbergin on June 4, 2013, 12:18 GMT

    As a Test cricket purist, I'd love to see Ireland involved in the five day game, sporting the whites with a shamrock emblem, It could work, but the idea that we could support a First-Class competition here is fantasy time. If we play Tests, it would have to be analogous to the Ireland footballers. They have survived and thrived at the top international level-playing in England's top flight. The League of Ireland is all but irrelevant to the national team. Just as domestic cricket would be to the Test side.

  • on June 4, 2013, 9:41 GMT

    @CricketingStargazer Murtagh is a very Irish Surname. He didn't just 'find a Irish granny' His uncle had also represented Ireland So I would probably assume his father was also born in Ireland.

    @tatactg Considering their best quick bowler has essentially been poached by England (Why do England need to be poaching associate players, can't they develop their ow bowlers?). In their Last ODI Ireland had as many Irishmen as England had English born players. Perhaps England can give back Rankin for Murtagh?

    @2nd_Slip FIFA recognise Australia beating an American Samoa team 31-0 as a full international. It wasn't even a top string Australian side. Yet cricket fans are so paranoid about the occasional lop sided result. They happen, Deal with it, move on.

  • ygkd on June 4, 2013, 8:32 GMT

    If you look at cricket history you find most teams were given Test status arguably before they were quite ready. Pretty much the only two teams that competed on an equal footing from day one were the first two - England and Australia. So why does Ireland have to wait so long? The ICC should be assisting with a pan-European first class competition to rival County cricket and looking at Ireland as the first European cab off the rank. Then the Dutch and the Scots can hopefully follow and the game can grow like it should. As it is, the only thing that seems to be growing in this regard, is the number of people sick of waiting for action on this issue of Associate integration.

  • Ginson on June 3, 2013, 23:36 GMT

    Ireland thoroughly deserve test cap, the game has picked up new followers and broke into new range of people in this wonderful country. Regular cricket against top nations are a good way to improve the fan base.Lots of new clubs are formed and playing well the 'new south Asian' community are the major pushing factor behind this development. As a player representing Nenagh Cricket Club and an Indian I can really see someone from this community sharing the shamrock greens dressing room sooner or later.

  • SDHM on June 3, 2013, 9:05 GMT

    Basically, the most important thing is to set up a domestic first class competition. Bangladesh have shown that stepping up to Test cricket without one just won't work. Ireland are better placed to be more competitive straight away due to the fact that a lot of their players are involved in county cricket and therefore have experience of playing the longer format to a high level, but the minute they become internationals the contracts would dry up and therefore the quality would go plummeting down without regular top class cricket to hone their skills. It's currently an enormous Catch-22: county cricket is one of the reasons Ireland are competitive, but it is also losing them their players. The ICC & ECB have to help them set up their own first class tournament; do it by regions, like rugby, with maybe a couple of Scottish sides and the Dutch thrown in. It's somewhere to start, at the very least.

  • on June 3, 2013, 8:52 GMT

    15 years ago, Kenya had a vibrant and competitive side. Because the road to the highest level, Test status, was blocked cricket in Kenya has withered and seriously declined. A great opportunity was lost. This must not happen again. Of course Ireland should have Test status and they should not have to wait until 2020. They should be given it now but put on probation before admission to the Future Tours Programme for 5 years. In that time they can play one-off tests against the strongest sides such as South Africa and England and longer series against the weaker sides such as Bangladesh, Zimbabwe and one or two others (which would also benefit the players from those countries having a chance to play in more even contests). If Ireland aren't up to speed (but why shouldn't they with a full strength side?) then extend the probation period for another 5 years. Is that really too hard to organise or are there other vested interests which are the real problem?

  • ReverseSweepRhino on June 3, 2013, 5:40 GMT

    I think the bottom two test teams should be relegated and replaced by the top two teams from the Intercontinental Cup, in a two-yearly cycle. Especially as the ICC and the cricket boards of top teams are looking more and more unlikely to induct more teams into the fray.

  • ThatsJustCricket on June 3, 2013, 3:40 GMT

    ICC needs to do something to stop this player drainage or the associate teams will never be able to compete. There is a rule in place that makes the likes of Joyce wait for 4 years since he last played for England before he can rejoin Ireland, why cant that work the other way? If an Irish player who has played an international fixture for Ireland has to wait the same number of years before he can play for, say, England, that will halt this unfortunate business.

  • virendra_s on June 5, 2013, 16:58 GMT

    Is anybody aware if Bangladesh is going to Tour Ireland in near future . If yes when?

  • on June 4, 2013, 22:39 GMT

    @Ashiqur Rahman Why not? Most of the players come through Ireland's age group cricket then finish off in county cricket. As Gavbergin says, most of Irelands footballers come through the English system so why not the cricketers FIFA still recognise them, why can't the ICC.

    @ygkd I think the Irish, Scots and Dutch should work together and set up a FC\ListA\T20 competition. Two groups of 6 each group contains two teams from one of the afore mentioned nations. top two from each group plays semi finals then final.

  • gavbergin on June 4, 2013, 12:18 GMT

    As a Test cricket purist, I'd love to see Ireland involved in the five day game, sporting the whites with a shamrock emblem, It could work, but the idea that we could support a First-Class competition here is fantasy time. If we play Tests, it would have to be analogous to the Ireland footballers. They have survived and thrived at the top international level-playing in England's top flight. The League of Ireland is all but irrelevant to the national team. Just as domestic cricket would be to the Test side.

  • on June 4, 2013, 9:41 GMT

    @CricketingStargazer Murtagh is a very Irish Surname. He didn't just 'find a Irish granny' His uncle had also represented Ireland So I would probably assume his father was also born in Ireland.

    @tatactg Considering their best quick bowler has essentially been poached by England (Why do England need to be poaching associate players, can't they develop their ow bowlers?). In their Last ODI Ireland had as many Irishmen as England had English born players. Perhaps England can give back Rankin for Murtagh?

    @2nd_Slip FIFA recognise Australia beating an American Samoa team 31-0 as a full international. It wasn't even a top string Australian side. Yet cricket fans are so paranoid about the occasional lop sided result. They happen, Deal with it, move on.

  • ygkd on June 4, 2013, 8:32 GMT

    If you look at cricket history you find most teams were given Test status arguably before they were quite ready. Pretty much the only two teams that competed on an equal footing from day one were the first two - England and Australia. So why does Ireland have to wait so long? The ICC should be assisting with a pan-European first class competition to rival County cricket and looking at Ireland as the first European cab off the rank. Then the Dutch and the Scots can hopefully follow and the game can grow like it should. As it is, the only thing that seems to be growing in this regard, is the number of people sick of waiting for action on this issue of Associate integration.

  • on June 4, 2013, 5:41 GMT

    Lots of players involved in county crickets ! Does Ireland have their own cricketing structure? It can't be England B team using English cricketing set up. Get you own structure to produce players rather using English one. Its good to be in county, but that can't be the only way to produce players. I wanna see Ireland produce a team without county help and able to compete with West Indies, Zimbabwe and Bangladesh. Then they can claim Test status, otherwise wait another 5 years and we would where it goes.

  • on June 4, 2013, 2:16 GMT

    @moshin Exactly. Thank you - please ICC tell us what you want us to do to achieve test status. We have plans that we think will work but the ICC have made NO comment. Surely its not unreasonable to ask what goals do we need to achieve and how can we build it into a plan?

  • on June 4, 2013, 2:08 GMT

    Stirling again today 132 not out for Middx - ICC it really wont be long before England come calling - and Dockrell is a class spinner - both are boys (very early 20's) and products of the ICC funded (thank you) development squads. i dont understand - you wanted Ireland to develop players and supported us doing that. Now that we have and these players are being internationally recognized you dont do anything o stop them going to England?

    Makes no sense to me ....

  • Nerk on June 3, 2013, 23:40 GMT

    I think the distinction between test and non-test sides a little archaic. I think the ICC should give boards a little more freedom to play test cricket against other nations. For example, Ireland could lobby Australia to play a test against them as preparation for the Ashes. If Ireland play well and get good crowds (as I believe they would), other teams would be tempted to play Ireland in test cricket. Hopefully it would get to the point where Ireland are playing two or three test matches a year at home against the teams and if they are successful, they will play more test matches and possibly go on tours.

  • S.Jagernath on June 3, 2013, 21:59 GMT

    Ireland are going to find reaching their goal very difficult,it may never be possible even,if England keep stealing their talent.England should either not be allowed to do this so easily or the players of the British Isles should combine as Britain.Test cricket seems to be getting more and more exclusive,so few teams can play it at a decent enough level.

  • on June 3, 2013, 21:48 GMT

    I don't see any reason why Ireland shouldn't compete in the County Championship, they don't have a depth of players for a domestic first class competition, but a full Ireland team would put up a decent show in the CC, the players are exposed to four-day cricket more regularly, less likely to leave to english counties,therefore a stronger case for full Test status(which I'd like to see for them)

  • Chris_P on June 3, 2013, 21:36 GMT

    Ireland's infrastructure & schedule are far ahead of both BD & Zimbabwe, their current team would be competitive, the rules for new countries can be relaxed to allow guys like Morgan to switch back rather than wait to re-qualify again. A first class structure to include Irish teams can be incorporated to give players first class experience in tough match conditions, overall it should be a simple matter of preparing them in, but wait, what will the ICC think about a test playing country who would vote independently? Yes, that's the REAL issue, folks.

  • shot274 on June 3, 2013, 21:02 GMT

    The problem is that for test recognition there is no benchmark. So lobbying and having enough test countries putting your case forward is more important than performances. Its not just that Ireland are better than Bangladesh or Zimbabwe; they are a good team and once given test recognition will become better. Their players for a start wont get poached. They will start off as one of the lower ranked teams but it will not surprise anyone if in 5-10 years they start competing with the best-like Sri Lanka.

  • on June 3, 2013, 20:42 GMT

    If you look at the side they could produce for Test cricket, its pretty impressive including Morgan and Rankin the side could look like this:

    Porterfield, Stirling, Joyce, Morgan, Wilson, N O'Brien (wk), K O'Brien, Johnston, Murtagh, Rankin, Dockrell.

  • on June 3, 2013, 20:34 GMT

    I think Ireland should definitely gain Test status, eventually I would like to see a two-tier Test system with promotion and relegation - where teams like Ireland, Bangladesh and Zimbabwe can remain competitive whilst still getting the chance to play Test cricket. Certainly a first-class system in Ireland should help in the long run - I just hope eventually the rest of the nations/the ICC see it fit to allow Ireland into the Test world - they bring something different to what we already have in Test cricket and that can only be a good thing.

  • FredJ000 on June 3, 2013, 20:32 GMT

    With Bangladesh still struggling and Zimbabwe on their way back it's time for the ICC to be bold and give Ireland test status. I think a 3 test series down in Buwalayo would be fantastic!

  • essky on June 3, 2013, 19:49 GMT

    Given that this will "rob" England of players, and in no way affects India, the ICC will make no move to grant Ireland test status. Two years ago Ireland wanted it and continues to work hard toward their goal, yet absolute silence is the choice of the ICC. What do we call it when the ICC bowls a no ball every time Ireland makes a positive move, too bad the Irish don't get a free hit.

  • CricketChat on June 3, 2013, 19:20 GMT

    Based on their performances in the last 2 yrs or so, I believe Ireland can compete with Zimbabwe or Bangladesh on even terms in any form of game. ICC gave both Zim and Bang lots of chances to improve and compete at a higher level past 10-15 years or more. I think it is the failure of these two teams to lift themselves to a higher standard is what is keeping more associate nations from being brought into the elite level.

  • Desihungama on June 3, 2013, 19:04 GMT

    Good on Pakistan to help Irish Cricket but gradually! First they lost to them (2007), then a tied match and then a win. lol. Ireland should know and acknowledge if any full member can help their cause, that's Pak and they should visit there too. Really hoping to see the likes of O'Brien, Trent, Porterfield flexing muscles in front of Lahore crowd.

  • Batmanindallas on June 3, 2013, 16:27 GMT

    Misbah to say they are better than Bangladesh in terms of their batting ability is great...hope ICC wakes up

  • on June 3, 2013, 15:59 GMT

    I think its telling that Ireland enjoy the good wishes and support of fans the world over. If the comments on cricinfo are reflective, Ireland are a popular team. I understand why - they are exciting and gutsy. They have big hearts and don't surrender meekly.

    And I agree with the statement that when Ireland get test status, players who left should be given a waiver to return to the Emerald Isle side immediately. In the interim, top 8 'A' sides should play Ireland in 4/5 day games to ease any transition.

  • on June 3, 2013, 15:48 GMT

    Ireland must be given a clear road map. They have done everything the Bengali and Zimbabwean sides did prior to getting test status. They produce good domestic players, they have a solid FC system, they benefit from the close England connection. They have wins over Pakistan and England, Bangladesh and so on. At home they would surely hammer Bangladesh and Zimbabwe.

    It should be made clear that the doors to the top table are open if you merit it. At the least have a 2nd tier of test cricket with Zimbabwe, Bangladesh, Ireland and perhaps Afghanistan and let them play. The top side can get promoted to the big 8 [tier 1] league each 4 year rotation.

  • VK on June 3, 2013, 15:46 GMT

    If a 2 tier test structure with promotion/relegation was adopted then many of the concerns people have of pushing another Affiliate up to Test status would be allayed. There'd be more time in the schedule and Ireland would be playing nations of a similar level. Matches would also mean something and so on.

  • on June 3, 2013, 15:34 GMT

    I don't understand what more Ireland needs to do to be part of the elite because they have done everything they can possibly do as an Associate team. They have by a large distance been the top Associate team in the last 5 years winning 9/10 times among their groups. One of the very few that have 'consistently' beaten/tied with the full members in that same period and putting in good performances and they do not play like a typical minnow. Its about time Ireland are given the respect they deserve because they earned it. Teams like Bangladesh complain about lack of Cricket and rightly so and having Ireland among the ranks means more games and competition for the lower half teams.

  • on June 3, 2013, 15:32 GMT

    Come'on ICC, give them a chance to don test colors !

  • 2nd_Slip on June 3, 2013, 15:18 GMT

    As much as I would love test cricket to grow and eventually expand to all parts of the world, a couple of good ODI performances doesn't necessarily mean Ireland would be able to compete against the likes of SA. NZ are a prime example to backing this, good ODI outfit but pathetic test team. Same applies for Zim and Bangladesh, when they get thumped by the big boys its a total mismatch, heck!! they even play their fringe players in those tests which does help their growth. The best thing that the ICC can do is probably get all these minnows to play more against each other and the big boys to play more against each other(SA,Eng,Ind,Pak,Aus) and another league for(Sri Lanka,WI,NZ,Zim,Bang,Ire) and every after 2yrz relegate the last team in the top league and promote the top team in the bottom league. Or better yet just like the West Windies, Ireland,Wales together with Eng can just participate as Great Britain

  • siddhartha87 on June 3, 2013, 14:23 GMT

    Ireland has lots of potential.They are better than long test playing nation like Bangladesh. Their player needs more opportunities. ICC should plan more bilateral series for Ireland.Things like 3 match bilateral series against their neighbor England both Home and away will help them. Hopefully they would not be Kenya part 2 .I remember Kenya used to beat Bangladesh most of the times 12-15 yrs back.But instead of them Bangladesh got test status.

  • on June 3, 2013, 14:12 GMT

    If I was an ICC official it would be pretty easy ... award Test status to anyone who wants to apply & pick & choose who they play ... in rugby any nation can play Tests so why not cricket? Why can't they play Bangladesh & Zimbabwe? Let's be honest, they are playing a better brand of cricket than England & Australia did in 1877. They may not have a first-class structure in place but why is it required when the English County Scene is on at the same time? Why can't we have 3 provinces one day play in the English County Championships like Glamorgan does? Save the money for the juniors. It is clear that the Irish have developed a pretty good junior system with the underage boys doing pretty well in their world cups & the way that the young guns like Dockrell & Stirling have developed. If the ICC are so fixated on Test cricket then make it Country of Origin ... what would the English team look like then? I reckon Ireland would have them covered! Well written Ger!

  • EnglishCricket on June 3, 2013, 13:48 GMT

    @John: Where was the crowd when England and Australia toured India recently for tests? I saw massive gaps of crowd for these matches so please lets not be biased. Only 10 countries of more than 200 countries play tests so I do not understand the fuss :P

  • VB_Says on June 3, 2013, 13:39 GMT

    How do ICC know which of the Associate teams is ready to play Test cricket? I have a suggestion: Create new version of Test-like matches with a flavor of a limited overs game. These may not consume full 5 days, but closer. Here it is; Each team bats 100 overs in 2 innings. The team that has a better NRR wins. If scores are level, then team picking more wickets wins. If wickets are level, then number of maiden overs can be counted. A super over can settle everything, if all else fails to determine the winner.

  • on June 3, 2013, 13:23 GMT

    Why does everyone want yet another test-playing country? The international schedule is already too crowded. If Ireland tour India, will there be people at the ground to watch them? I agree Ireland are as good as Bangladesh and Zimbabwe. However, it is not clear to me that any of the three should be playing test match cricket. Zimbabwe should, in my opinion, play in SAfrican regional competition (they did this years ago when it was Rhodesia). Ireland could do the same as an English county. The Irish would then get a good diet of first class cricket for their home crowds to enjoy, and still play ODIs. Whether there happen to be 11 players good enough at this moment is not the critical point. It is whether the infrastructure and support is sufficient to justify a test team, with the reasonable expectation that they will in general have 11 good enough players in the long term.

  • Herbet on June 3, 2013, 13:12 GMT

    I meant to put that Ireland would be no worse than Bangladesh or Zimbabwe. Obviously, they won't be worse than Ireland!

  • tatactg on June 3, 2013, 12:48 GMT

    Before irish fans saying ireland is better than this team that team they should have the guts to field 11 irishman on the field.Even in the last series they played with Johnston , Cusack and Murtagh (players not developed by ireland) in their first 11 with Sorensen (another hire ) in reserve.Interestingly they are all bowlers - so pretty much the entire irish bowling attack is based on hired players and the attack is quite pathetic.Picking a 31 year old county pro (Murtagh) rather than playing your McCarters et el only goes to show the lack of developement of irish cricket.The irish fans are seriously delusional if they think they are way better than Zim\Bang & allready on par with NZ\WI. For the record Ireland still haven't won a match in BD.

    P.S. Ger Siggins you should post this comment if you have any honest bone in your body.

  • TheRisingTeam on June 3, 2013, 11:18 GMT

    I like Irish Cricket and it will be great to see another top European Cricket country among the elites but lets get 1 thing straight. Ireland are definitely NOT better than Bangladesh because since their first meeting in 07, Bangladesh and Ireland have met eachother 7 times in ODIs with Bangladesh leading 5-2. In T20s they have met 4 times with Bangladesh leading 3-1 and under-19 5 times with Bangladesh leading 5-0 so these figures are proof enough Ireland are not better than Bangladesh. I really hope there is an ODI series between the 2 countries so that argument that Ireland are better than Bangladesh can be put to rest because its getting pretty annoying. Yes likely Ireland will give Bangladesh a tough test in their grounds but Ireland will get destroyed by Bangladesh in the subcontinent. Yes Ireland are better than Zimbabwe I agree with that.

  • Herbet on June 3, 2013, 11:04 GMT

    I think the ICC should say now that Ireland can have test status by 2015/16 if they have a 4 team first class structure by then. I also think that any player who has or is currently playing cricket for England should be granted a kind of amnesty allowing them to play for Ireland straight away, instead of having to waste 4 years 're-qualifying' like Joyce did. At the end of the day it is the fault of the cricket structure that they are having to play for England. An Ireland side containing Joyce, Porterfield, Sterling, Morgan, the O'Neil brothers, Rankin and Dockrell would compete, certainly in English/Irish conditions and would certainly be no worse than Bangladesh or Ireland. I look forward to the day when Ireland play their inaugural test, hopefully against England at either Lords or the ground in Dublin.

  • on June 3, 2013, 10:52 GMT

    If we do get test status, they should declare an amnesty for all the players who have declared for England - Morgan, Rankin and whoever else should be allowed to jump back over to the Ireland team without having to requalify. We'd have a right strong team if you added those two to our current line-up! A good match for West Indies and New Zealand, I'd say, never mind Bangladesh and Zimbabwe. This McCarter looks like a good find, Thompson too, so hopefully our bowling won't suffer too much when Johnston retires.

  • CricketingStargazer on June 3, 2013, 10:30 GMT

    Just a thought - and probably unworkable - but could an England v Ireland 4-day match be added to the traditional MCC v Champion County season-opener in Dubai?

  • CricketingStargazer on June 3, 2013, 10:23 GMT

    @ThatsJustCricket I am afraid that it will not. In fact, it might just make things worse because a player with serious ambitions will declare for the Full Member at 18 or younger and NEVER play for the team of his birth.

    What needs to be done is just the reverse. Let players from Associates gain experience playing for Full Members, but without a re-qualifying period for the Associate on return (or a token one or, say, 3 months). However, when they return to the Associate side they are then no longer eligible for the Full Member again. In other words, if Eoin Morgan loses his place, if Boyd Rankin never gets one.

    Curiously, we talk about poaching one way, but not the other. Tim Murtagh saw that his chances of international cricket with England probably had gone, so he found an Irish granny and declared for Ireland. He is now a fixture in the Irish side. We also tend to forget just how much Irish cricket has gained by having such a strong association with counties such as Middlesex.

  • on June 3, 2013, 10:17 GMT

    Purely and simply, Ireland should be playing Test cricket now. They are probably better than Zimbabwe and could beat Bangladesh in their own conditions. The ICC should be allowing more teams into Test cricket to allow the format to grow along with T20. Fifty over cricket needs to make way. In rugby minnows play full internationals - it's time for the ICC (rather India) to take note and let the game flourish away from the subcontinent.....

  • Jadejafan on June 3, 2013, 9:49 GMT

    I don't understand why our Indian team refuses to play Ireland. Their pitches are pretty similar to England and India should take such opportunity so not only you have a good relation with Irish Cricket but our players will get enough opportunity to play on such pitches and conditions.

  • EnglishCricket on June 3, 2013, 9:42 GMT

    There should be a 3 match ODI series between Ireland and Bangladesh/Zimbabwe home and away. I have no doubt Ireland can beat these teams if given the chance plus its interesting. Ireland should definitely play against full member nations at least 12-15 ODIs and 8-10 T20 matches i.e. 6 ODIs against Bangladesh home and away, 3 ODIs against Zimbabwe home, 2 against England home, and the remaining games against visiting teams to England who can play Ireland for a bit of preparation before the big one against England. Plenty of Cricket for Ireland not just against the associates but against full nations.

  • on June 3, 2013, 9:30 GMT

    I don't understand why teams like Bangladesh and Zimbabwe don't play Ireland in an ODI series while someone like Pakistan does. ICC should do something about it because it looks to me a team like Bangladesh are afraid of losing to them. I do not understand why Cricket being an unpopular sport is not reaching out to newer countries.

  • py0alb on June 3, 2013, 8:41 GMT

    For T20s and ODIs, all teams should qualify for the respective world cups on level terms, based around geographic groups. This would mean regular, meaningful games between teams like England, Ireland, Scotland, and any other up and coming European nation.

    For Test Cricket, the 4/5 year test cycle should end with the top two teams playing off in a first to 3, and the bottom team relegated. A second tier of international long format cricket should be introduced with 3 or 4 day games, the winner of which is promoted.

  • Harlequin. on June 3, 2013, 7:48 GMT

    Without a doubt Ireland should have test status. Sure they may get wiped off the park if they went to Durban or Jo'burg, but Ireland-Zimbabwe has just as much potential for an exciting test series as SA-Eng; bottom of the league relegation battles are just as fun as top of the table clashes. And who can deny that Ireland have the passion that could see them in the top four in twenty years time?!

  • Tom_Bowler on June 3, 2013, 7:42 GMT

    Bangladesh has a huge population, cricket is popular there, it is a mass participation sport and they have been full ICC members for more then ten years yet they have made virtually no progress in that time. Ireland is a small country, cricket is a long way down the lists in terms of popularity behind Gaelic sports, football and rugby and their player base is tiny. To suggest that Ireland will flourish where Bangladesh has struggled is in the realms of fantasy, their one advantage is a higher GDP per head of population and there is no good reason to suspect a significant amount of that extra money will find its way into cricket. With a proper first class structure and a wider player base Ireland would probably be just fine as full members but, as Bangladesh's experience shows, that has to happen before Test status is granted not after it has been.

  • tfjones1978 on June 3, 2013, 7:38 GMT

    Test cricket needs to be meaningful. The best way of doing this is TWO tiers of SIX teams playing 20 tests over 24 month period. Warm up matches should occur against International A sides (eg: Ireland A vs Australia A) instead of first class teams. At the end of two years: Tier 1 Winner wins the Test Cup. Tier 1 last place relegates to tier 2. Tier 2 Winner is promoted to Tier 1. Tier 2 last place relegates to Test Qualifiers ("TQ", currently ICup matches), replaced by TQ winner. Additionally Tier 1 5th & Tier 2 2nd should play 3 test series in Tier 1 5th country of selection. Similar with Tier 2 5th & TQ 2nd. This would bring context to every single test match that is ever played.

  • ygkd on June 3, 2013, 7:24 GMT

    2020 is a long way away. Many of their best current players will be knocking on a bit. You can never accuse the ICC of acting in haste on this one. By the way, as a purely neutral observer, I thought their luck was a bit stiff against Pakistan. The DL target seemed a tad high given the game was all but full-length. Anyway, good on Pakistan for giving the Irish a go.

  • GrumpiusMaximus on June 3, 2013, 7:17 GMT

    I'm not convinced that Ireland have the skills to play at test level yet but if the Irish board can stop this player drain, then they have a good chance. It is deeply frustrating to see teams playing tests that are not ready for test level cricket - simply look at Bangladesh. I would like to see Ireland play tests or first-class games against the bottom three ranked test nations as a full ICC member. This would gauge their ability and allow them to make the necessary improvements. Theoretically, these games could be played as five or four days, as long as the format is at least at a first-class level.

    Ireland deserve to be given consideration. Their performances in ODIs of late is nothing short of remarkable given the lack of native infrastructure.

  • Albert_cambell on June 3, 2013, 5:26 GMT

    Misbah was spot on with his comments. Ireland are definitely better than BD and Zimbabwe. But they might struggle in Zimbabwe though.

  • on June 3, 2013, 5:26 GMT

    I think there should be test status for the teams ranked till no.12 . That will make Test Cricket more intresting

  • Marktc on June 3, 2013, 5:13 GMT

    If Bangladesh can have test status, why not Ireland. They drew the Pakistan match, despite scoring more runs. Give them their chance and let them show their stuff.

  • Marktc on June 3, 2013, 5:13 GMT

    If Bangladesh can have test status, why not Ireland. They drew the Pakistan match, despite scoring more runs. Give them their chance and let them show their stuff.

  • on June 3, 2013, 5:26 GMT

    I think there should be test status for the teams ranked till no.12 . That will make Test Cricket more intresting

  • Albert_cambell on June 3, 2013, 5:26 GMT

    Misbah was spot on with his comments. Ireland are definitely better than BD and Zimbabwe. But they might struggle in Zimbabwe though.

  • GrumpiusMaximus on June 3, 2013, 7:17 GMT

    I'm not convinced that Ireland have the skills to play at test level yet but if the Irish board can stop this player drain, then they have a good chance. It is deeply frustrating to see teams playing tests that are not ready for test level cricket - simply look at Bangladesh. I would like to see Ireland play tests or first-class games against the bottom three ranked test nations as a full ICC member. This would gauge their ability and allow them to make the necessary improvements. Theoretically, these games could be played as five or four days, as long as the format is at least at a first-class level.

    Ireland deserve to be given consideration. Their performances in ODIs of late is nothing short of remarkable given the lack of native infrastructure.

  • ygkd on June 3, 2013, 7:24 GMT

    2020 is a long way away. Many of their best current players will be knocking on a bit. You can never accuse the ICC of acting in haste on this one. By the way, as a purely neutral observer, I thought their luck was a bit stiff against Pakistan. The DL target seemed a tad high given the game was all but full-length. Anyway, good on Pakistan for giving the Irish a go.

  • tfjones1978 on June 3, 2013, 7:38 GMT

    Test cricket needs to be meaningful. The best way of doing this is TWO tiers of SIX teams playing 20 tests over 24 month period. Warm up matches should occur against International A sides (eg: Ireland A vs Australia A) instead of first class teams. At the end of two years: Tier 1 Winner wins the Test Cup. Tier 1 last place relegates to tier 2. Tier 2 Winner is promoted to Tier 1. Tier 2 last place relegates to Test Qualifiers ("TQ", currently ICup matches), replaced by TQ winner. Additionally Tier 1 5th & Tier 2 2nd should play 3 test series in Tier 1 5th country of selection. Similar with Tier 2 5th & TQ 2nd. This would bring context to every single test match that is ever played.

  • Tom_Bowler on June 3, 2013, 7:42 GMT

    Bangladesh has a huge population, cricket is popular there, it is a mass participation sport and they have been full ICC members for more then ten years yet they have made virtually no progress in that time. Ireland is a small country, cricket is a long way down the lists in terms of popularity behind Gaelic sports, football and rugby and their player base is tiny. To suggest that Ireland will flourish where Bangladesh has struggled is in the realms of fantasy, their one advantage is a higher GDP per head of population and there is no good reason to suspect a significant amount of that extra money will find its way into cricket. With a proper first class structure and a wider player base Ireland would probably be just fine as full members but, as Bangladesh's experience shows, that has to happen before Test status is granted not after it has been.

  • Harlequin. on June 3, 2013, 7:48 GMT

    Without a doubt Ireland should have test status. Sure they may get wiped off the park if they went to Durban or Jo'burg, but Ireland-Zimbabwe has just as much potential for an exciting test series as SA-Eng; bottom of the league relegation battles are just as fun as top of the table clashes. And who can deny that Ireland have the passion that could see them in the top four in twenty years time?!

  • py0alb on June 3, 2013, 8:41 GMT

    For T20s and ODIs, all teams should qualify for the respective world cups on level terms, based around geographic groups. This would mean regular, meaningful games between teams like England, Ireland, Scotland, and any other up and coming European nation.

    For Test Cricket, the 4/5 year test cycle should end with the top two teams playing off in a first to 3, and the bottom team relegated. A second tier of international long format cricket should be introduced with 3 or 4 day games, the winner of which is promoted.

  • on June 3, 2013, 9:30 GMT

    I don't understand why teams like Bangladesh and Zimbabwe don't play Ireland in an ODI series while someone like Pakistan does. ICC should do something about it because it looks to me a team like Bangladesh are afraid of losing to them. I do not understand why Cricket being an unpopular sport is not reaching out to newer countries.