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Part two

What more are Ireland supposed to do?

They have shown the ambition, drive and talent needed to earn Test status. But does the ICC have the vision to make it happen?

Jarrod Kimber

September 14, 2013

Comments: 50 | Text size: A | A

In part one, read how cricket in Ireland, played since the 18th century, fell out of favour and then fought its way back


Clare Shillington was dismissed for 9, Australia v Ireland, women's World Cup, Christchurch, December 3, 2000
By 2000, Ireland's women's team was playing its fourth World Cup © Getty Images
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At Malahide the crowd was alarmingly not drunk. There was a lack of beer snakes and men running around in costumes behaving like morons. No one seemed to be thrown out. And attractive women weren't whistled at every time they moved. Had it been an ODI at a ground in Australia or England, some of those things would have happened.

This was different. This was a group of intelligent fans who were there for the cricket, not the day out and to sink as much piss as they could. There were more kids and families than you would see at most ODIs. Almost every second person seemed to have a replica shirt on.

They knew the game too. For a while there was a pause when Ed Joyce stood on his stumps, but once the replay was shown, the crowd made the noise of "Oh, that makes sense" at once. They picked on Michael Carberry mercilessly, as you do when a bloke is making a mistake every time he is anywhere near the ball. They booed Eoin Morgan when he came out, and then applauded him when he made his hundred.

It was one of, if not the most, intelligent and respectable crowds you would ever find at an ODI.

****

All of Ireland's recent history comes down to one decision: the ICC making them an Associate member in 1993. At that stage Ireland were very much amateur in every way. They were routinely smashed in county cricket's List A competition. They had Alan Lewis, who would end his first-class career with an average of over 50, a bunch of handy club cricketers, and the odd naturalised pro. They were the sort of team that would lose by an innings in a first-class match against a current Irish side.

Yet someone at the ICC, which was largely an amateur organisation itself, believed in them. It was an accidental, largely out-of-the-blue decision. Scotland, who had spent decades beating Ireland consistently, had to wait another year to get the same status. But you don't question the ICC when they give you a gift horse. You take it and ride it to pretty places.

It was in the 1990s that the passion of those who kept cricket alive really started to pay off. The Irish women's team was in the middle of representing their country at five straight women's World Cups. Northern Ireland played in the Commonwealth games. And for the first time, Ireland showed they were as good as Scotland, and then started to beat them. Yet most of this was only news inside the Irish cricket community.

In 1996, Joyce travelled to Melbourne to play club cricket at the Coburg Cricket Club in the sub-district competition. Joyce was not hired; he tailed along with a member of the club who had played in Ireland. The club was told he was the best cricketer in Ireland. In his entire season, he made one half-century, and played most of his time in the seconds.

No one who saw Joyce play that year would have thought he would become a dual international cricketer, or that Ireland would ever win a World Cup game.

****

In 2006, Paul Stirling was 16. At that stage, a young Irish kid who loved cricket would have heroes from other countries. Lara. Tendulkar. Warne. By 2007, their heroes were Jeremy Bray, Andre Botha and Trent Johnston. It was a big step. But as great as Johnston has been for Irish cricket, the next step needed to be Irish-born players as heroes.

Eoin Morgan was lost. Joyce had just come back. But it was Kevin O'Brien who became the hero.

Much like Johnston he is an allrounder who may not always get picked on either skill. His batting is better than Johnston's, his bowling is worse. O'Brien has played in the CPL, but not much in county, IPL or Big Bash. He is just below top-level international standard.

 
 
Ireland aren't trying to become the No. 11 Test team; they want to become one of 12 teams over two divisions. And essentially they don't want to play the top six teams until they are ready
 

But like the tennis player who saves his best for the Davis Cup, O'Brien plays his best cricket when he pulls on the shirt of Ireland. He may never make it as a globetrotting T20 player because there is something that changes within him when he plays for Ireland.

He came from a proper Irish cricketing family. His father and brother represented Ireland at cricket as well. His school had no cricket club. Without his family, he may never have made it to where he is now. But he has, and when he went to the wicket at 106 for 4 needing 222 from the next 27.4 overs, against England in a World Cup, no one expected Ireland to win.

They did.

Unless you saw the innings as it unfurled you can't really ever take it in. The numbers 113 off 63 don't look real. In real time it started off as a novelty, went into farce, then turned into hope and was ended by a run-out just as they got close. His innings was enough, though, and John Mooney finished England off in the next over to complete the biggest chase in World Cup history.

It was without a doubt one of the most amazing ODI knocks. This home-grown Irish bloke, who was hidden at the non-striker's end during his first senior game of cricket by his brother, had given Ireland their best win.

When Ireland beat Pakistan, Kevin O'Brien was at the non-striker's end. When Ireland beat England, Johnston was at the non-striker's end.

****

Warren Deutrom looked like a proud parent as he gestured at Fortress Malahide and asked people what they thought of his baby.

It was probably the very opposite of what he felt when only a few days after Ireland had beaten England in the World Cup, the ICC announced only Test nations would play in the next World Cup.

Up until that point, Ireland had been situating themselves as the rightful next Test-playing country. They were setting up a first-class competition, which the ICC is now funding. They were getting professional on the ground, offering their players contracts. They were one of the first cricket boards in the world with independent governance. They had their own sponsors. Had now won games in two World Cups running, and were at least as good as Zimbabwe and Bangladesh. Outside of the World Cup, Ireland didn't exist for most cricket fans, so how could they continue to survive without the tournament?


Kevin O'Brien and William Porterfield celebrate a wicket, Ireland v Scotland, ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier, Dubai, March 18, 2012
Kevin O'Brien: a different beast when he puts his Ireland shirt on © Getty Images
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Ireland had assumed they were a member of the ICC until that point. Now they knew that Associate essentially meant "something we have on our shoe". The ICC was investing millions of dollars in Associate countries like Ireland, and now they were saying that Ireland couldn't even have the chance to prove that they were worth it.

After the cricket world mocked them, the decision was changed. But none of that bodes well for Cricket Ireland getting their Test status. There is even a chance that there will never be another Test-playing nation. With Test cricket being played less and less by the smaller nations already, why mess that with another team that is clearly not good enough to compete with the top four teams? A team that will clog up FTP dates and take years to become good.

But Ireland aren't trying to become the No. 11 Test team. They want to become one of 12 teams over two divisions. And essentially they don't want to play the top six teams until they are ready, until they are good enough to be promoted. As a Test team right now, you have nothing to lose by playing poor Test cricket for a couple of years. Being relegated, and perhaps given less ICC spoils for being in the second division, would mean that teams would have to earn their spots.

Ireland could also become the new New Zealand. For years New Zealand was a trip that was tacked on to larger Australian tours. It took them years to become a consistent destination of their own. Every team that tours England could play two ODIs or T20s against Ireland as part of their trip. Meaning that Ireland could move forward and sell their future plans to Sky, rather than needing the ECB to be involved.

All of this is part of the Irish cricket dream. And it may sound far-fetched, but it is not as far-fetched as Ireland chasing down over 300 in a World Cup game.

Deutrom is behind everything in Irish cricket. He is one of the most intelligent people working in cricket today. He knows that a lot needs to go right for Ireland to become a Test nation. His role is to make sure that he does everything that the ICC asks. If they still aren't given Test status, it won't be for lack of trying, professionalism or passion.

****

"We don't want our best players playing for England" was a sign a fan held up at Malahide.

 
 
Warren Deutrom is behind everything in Irish cricket. He is one of the most intelligent people working in cricket today. If they aren't given Test status, it won't be for lack of trying, professionalism or passion
 

The feeling was the same when you talked to anyone involved: Don't tell us we're rubbish if England steal our players when we get any good. In seven years it has only been three players. But the best three. Take the best three players out of any team and see how they go.

The bigger fear is that the drain won't stop. With Simon Kerrigan failing, Monty Panesar slipping and Graeme Swann coming towards the end, George Dockrell can't be far away. Then there is Stirling. With England's perpetual struggle at the top of the ODI order, a dashing opener could come in handy. And that's not including the future stars who are in junior competitions.

It will only stop happening when Ireland become a Test-playing nation or become financially sufficient. Ireland hope that in the future the regulations about cricketers playing for an Associate one day and for a Test-playing nation the following day will be changed. Then if you want to choose to play for England, you have to give up four years of playing for Ireland. Possibly one World Cup and two World Twenty20s. It's a nice idea, but the other Associates may not agree.

There are some fans who suggest that it suits England to not have Ireland as a Test-playing nation. That they can siphon off the odd good player and control the entire West European cricket rights. If only cricket worked that way.

To Cricket Australia, the BCCI and the ECB, the Associates are irrelevant. To those three boards, even the other seven Test teams are not relevant. These big three are hosting all the ICC tournaments; they are playing each other perpetually. They are running the game as they like.

Why would they want another team in Test cricket? They have already made it be known they didn't even want more than ten teams in the World Cup. Votes are no longer counted at ICC chairmen's meetings, so Ireland's vote is not an issue. There is just no reason for the ECB, or any major board, to bring Ireland in. And none of the smaller countries wants a smaller piece of the pie, or have enough strength of character to make a big decision.

In the next five years, Ireland will have done everything the ICC asks of its full Test nations. Hopefully by then the political climate of cricket for greed's sake will be replaced by people who put cricket first. If not, the only way for Ireland to become a Test-playing nation is by shaming the ICC into action.

****

Johnston used the new ball well for Ireland against England in Malahide. He beat the bat, seamed the ball, and took the wicket of Carberry. It was a typical Johnston spell. Reliable, handy and effective. After five overs he had 1 for 15. England were 27 for 3.


George Dockrell with the Associate and Affiliate Cricketer of the Year award, Colombo, September 15, 2012
Many fear that it won't be long before spinner George Dockrell is also poached by England © Associated Press
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When he came back on, he truly looked his age. Those first five overs seemed to stiffen him. And with Bopara and Morgan in good form, there was little he could do to stop them smashing their way to victory.

The last ball that Johnston will ever bowl in an Irish shirt at Fortress Malahide was hit for six over cover to give the Irish-born Morgan a hundred.

At the end of the game Johnston jogged across the field. He was slow and stiff. You could almost hear his joints squeak as he did it. Eventually he hugged a bunch of family and friends on the boundary line. It was clearly an emotional time for him, leaving the ground after nine years of service to his new country.

Irish cricket has had many important players. Lewis, Joyce, Alec O'Riordan, Bob Lambert, Charles Lawrence, John Hynes, Kevin O'Brien, Lucius Gwynn and so many others all did their bit to keep it alive through all these years.

Johnston may not have been born Irish. But he was Irish cricket. As much as any of those names above.

Cricket Ireland has finished its home international season now. Its new and improved office is now looking ahead to the next games. It is working hard to develop new players, get more kids involved and find different revenue streams. But nothing is more important right now than turning Malahide CC from a club into a permanent international cricket stadium. It will fight every day to make sure Ireland is never again lost to the game of cricket.

But it needs more. With this much history, the sport deserves a home in Ireland. The country deserves for Fortress Malahide not to be a joke but to be their home of cricket.

Jarrod Kimber is 50% of the Two Chucks, and the mind responsible for cricketwithballs.com

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Posted by Little_Aussie_Battler on (September 19, 2013, 3:16 GMT)

Ireland ticks all the boxes. Time to give them test match status.

Now, under the original regime of England/Australia axis of control of the ICC the decision would be made for the good of the game worldwide and in Ireland to develop the sport there.

Unfortunately the ICC which is for the betterment of world cricket is not the current setup. The ICC of today is about hoarding the money for the individual greedy nations and with an Ireland at the top level it would give another voice to the non Asian bloc.

What Ireland needs to do now is create a first class cricketing structure and the Indian BCCI will not have a choice but to let them in. It should occur by 2020 at the latest. Hang in there Ireland.

Posted by   on (September 16, 2013, 18:55 GMT)

In previous comment I just want to say that countries like pak,bang don't have proper first class system with states as 1st class team.

Posted by   on (September 16, 2013, 3:27 GMT)

Why not have Ireland Bangladesh Zimbabwe maybe Kenya and Afghanistan play test cricket a division two with promotion and Demotion from division one based on rankings And test cricket in all its glory will Be an elite game . Playing one day and 20 should be good for these teams if they can get a regular diet of these

Posted by Ropsh on (September 15, 2013, 21:11 GMT)

There is no way that Ireland should become a Test nation before Kenya does. Kenya should have been promoted in 2003, so Ireland have at least a decade to wait before they should be promoted.

Posted by Afham_Kazi on (September 15, 2013, 13:08 GMT)

It is high time that Ireland should be given Test Status as Test cricket is dying slowly. Only the cricket fanatics knows the real importance of Test cricket. Irish cricket would bring new coulours as well as new set of people in the fold which is really important for test Cricket. Further, Afghanistan should be given more one-day mataches so that it also progresses to Test cricket. They also have a fantastic team. In my opinion, Ireland have justified already for a test claim. They are losing pleyer to England . England is benefiting from that. They are stealing players from ireland. No good for Irish cricket. We should save irish cricket today because there is no tommorrow. Let ireland have test cricket. Well done Ireland

Posted by PJD74 on (September 15, 2013, 12:29 GMT)

I'm not surprised by the ICC's reluctance to expand the sport but can't help but be amazed by those 'supporters" agreeing with this decision.

It's interesting to compare the progress of cricket, football and rugby over the last few decades. Football has grown hugely, doing away with the old panels in favour of relegation and promotion and actively seeking to expand into new parts of the world. Rugby has done similar and is reaping the rewards. Cricket though refuses to relinquish its reins on promotion and relegation and become a proper merit-based sport, with teams still having to jump through ridiculous hoops to become either a Test or County team. As Cricket Ireland's chief executive said in last week's NYTimes article: 'Something that stagnates or seeks simply to maintain itself can only shrivel and die'.

Posted by   on (September 15, 2013, 9:39 GMT)

if ireland was part of asian they would be a test nation the icc is so corrupt its not funny, how zimbabwe and bangledesh done u tell me they both play test cricket but yet since they begin there records are rubbish if icc doesnt do something england will grab all of irelands best players which is another joke bangledesh basically got test status due to asian voting power and winning against pakistan in the 1999 world cup same as zimbabwe india get there vote all the time

Posted by Nutcutlet on (September 15, 2013, 9:12 GMT)

I heartily agree with the sentiment expressed in the first paragraph. From watching on Sky, it was utterly apparent that the spectators at Malahide showed up their English counterparts. The crowd was engaged by the cricket, appreciative & knowledgeable of what they were watching. I am disinclined to attend an ODI in Eng because I am not amused by the alcohol-induced inane behaviour of a large number of English so-called fans; to my mind it's shameful. As for the ICC's part in promoting Ireland's move towards Test match status, I sense, most strongly, that the ICC is no more than an annexe of the BCCI & the BCCI's priorities have but two things on the agenda: (1) a continuing stranglehold on the ICC via monetary clout - which keeps the votes of impoverished boards in their pocket; (2) the strangling of Test cricket (witness the SA tour schedule fiasco), thereby allowing space for more & more meaningless t20 money-spinners. The BCCI has no time for Ireland's case; the ECB probably has.

Posted by Insult_2_Injury on (September 15, 2013, 5:36 GMT)

Great article, Jarrod. Sadly the catch 22 at the top ICC level will smother true advancement in international cricket. The top 3 will mouth the desire to expand the game for new fan bases, except they don't want to crowd their schedules with 'unimportant' games which don't draw maximum revenue. With two of the three in rebuilding and the other a year or two away, the thought of a two tier 6 team comp makes perfect sense to all followers, except the paranoid 'top 3' who believe any of them could slip into the bottom and lose their revenue making 'partners'. Perfect reason for a restructure at ICC management level....but how do you get the vested to change the structure and give up power? Ireland are a worthy competitor on the International stage and we spectators can't wait to see Irish players compete in full fledged internationals in their own team colours.

Posted by Diceman on (September 15, 2013, 3:10 GMT)

Sadly, there is no political will amongst cricket's elite power-broking nations to expand the sport. Sri Lanka is the only genuinely new region to gain test status since 1926 as all other teams added since then were part of pre existing test playing nations.

A division structure for test cricket would be a disaster for whatever current test-playing teams fail to make the top division. From a NZ viewpoint, there is little interest or money generated by playing Zimbabwe or Bangladesh. Allowing teams to arrange their own fixtures allows weaker nations to start gradually increasing their volume of fixtures against top eight sides as they improve. There needs to be 2 more test teams to ensure Zimbabwe are not playing Bangladesh all the time.

In Soccer, and increasingly in Rugby, 'friendlies' that do not score points towards a competition are treated as development opportunities rather than a genuine contest between two sides. It would be terrible if this happened to Test Cricket.

Posted by mahjut on (September 15, 2013, 1:22 GMT)

@Warm_Coffee ... nice post ! I should have read yours and stopped. Jarrod weakens his case when he brings Zim and BD into it - and alienates allies. Yes, Ireland have done well in the last couple of WC drawing with PK and beating Eng while Zim have done nothing except beat those they're expected to. That said, we did beat Ireland 2-1(they won the rubber) albeit at home, around the time of the WC and have beaten PK and BD who, as you point out, have beaten Ind, SL and WI. ...

I should have stopped after yours...

Posted by mahjut on (September 15, 2013, 0:58 GMT)

Yeah Graemo ... yet it would not surprise me one iota if Craig ervine found himself in the Irish squad. As a zim supporter I am more than happy not having a single Irish player in our ranks and feel if Rainsford - our current 6th choice seamer - could dominate the Irish bats as he did last series then we should still muster a series win against the best Ireland has. We are grateful for Ireland's last visit to help pull us out of the doldrums and prepare us for the 'A' teams from Oz who would in turn prepare us for our return to but cricket. Still, ljjMedium term ... with the van de merve's, bothas, Murtagh's and the odd Ozzie born player I think Ireland will hold up in International cricket and long-term they may even have a home-nurtured team in the top 10, but the more they belittle Zim/BD in an attempt to aggrandize themselves, the less I care to see them succeed

Posted by CricketChat on (September 15, 2013, 0:51 GMT)

While it is true Ireland has been beating associate teams like, Canada, Kenya, Namibia, US, Scotland, Netherlands, UAE, Bahamas, etc.., they have not exactly made a case against other test playing nations yet in an emphatic manner. To avoid a repetition of the mistake of giving Zim and Bangladesh test status, Ireland should be allowed to compete with the lower rung teams in, WI, NZ, Zim and Bang for the next 2-3 years. If they perform well, then they can be allowed into the elite group.

Posted by mahjut on (September 15, 2013, 0:45 GMT)

@Markdal ... I do understand that Irish supporters may be frustrated with us Zimbabweans looking to strengthen our gains by seeking games with bigger fish than Ireland...I really do, we have been on the end of that rod many a time. What I don't get is the desire to use Zim (or BD) to make your International case. We play so few Int games that the gains we do make (like beating pk today) will be lost by next series - is this comparison your best way forward? "Stronger internationally" - I know you have beaten us in the odd game but even at our weakest you couldn't win let alone draw a series against us. We just took an ODI from PK (and commend you on your draw) but we're yet to draw a series with Canada (as you did not so long ago). Finally, the "settled first class structure" - Zim did a few years back reinvent a broken system but even as recently as today it was unclear whether this year would go ahead - yet we beat the same team that whitewashed Eng 2 years ago. Take another tac plz!

Posted by   on (September 14, 2013, 23:58 GMT)

Cricket has always had an elitist background of trying to not let the 'natives' play the game. Cricket needs to expand and push its boundaries to expanding the game at both Test and ODI levels. It maybe good to get the world playing Twenty/20 but we need more countries playing Test cricket.

Lets have two division of 6 to allow both Ireland and Afghanistan into the fold. Test cricket needs the carrot to make every test matter and the with promotion and relegation it could create further interest in the game.

But the ICC won't as they don't see the benefit long term for the game of doing this.

Posted by Dashgar on (September 14, 2013, 23:44 GMT)

Some people have never read a Jarrod Kimber article before and want to make this all about England. Ireland will soon have a first class competition, should be a test playing nation. England shouldn't even be in that discussion. This article is arguing that Ireland are now ready both organizationally and competitively for test cricket and theorises the reasons why they aren't getting it. It's not about England at all.

Posted by Smithie on (September 14, 2013, 23:20 GMT)

The BCCI will never allow Ireland into ICC Test status because it would threaten their current stranglehold on the balance of voting power. Woolfe has been strangled and look what is happening to Lorgat for promoting its recommendations which would have seen Ireland granted their wish.

Posted by ball_boy on (September 14, 2013, 21:25 GMT)

Cricket burdened with a longer playing time and other rules which make a newbie lose their head already flourished across countries a little late,now the time when it needs to flourish across newer countries,the newer players cannot hope to paid that much in comparison to solo sports or sports where solo play tend to get noticed egbasketball.This is the time ofmoneyminded people back in olden days sports were more than livelihood they signified passion,courage, love for own country or dream to play for the country.Now hedreams are increasingly trampled on by need for livelihood.Stilltheyneed less money to putup for churning out better sportsmen than cricket.Wat i mean tosay is money is needed for the respective boards as also allow game to spread on to newer countries,its not as easy as football,it takes more time of viewer so less tv rights,.However the boards should know that too little players in the battle makes it stale and bad in the longer term presentlytheir players getpaidmore

Posted by   on (September 14, 2013, 20:16 GMT)

One further point that should be used in Ireland's favour is the professionalism of the management and the governance of CI, you only have to look at how well they use the limited funding they receive from the ICC for which Warren Deutrom (The best import Ireland have made) and his team have to be commended. The issue of Irish players playing in English counties can be explained by the fact that they are good enough to be there, the counties are not charities. The inter-pro tournament is already running now across T20, 50 over and 3 day formats and is working towards being a 1st class competition in the future. We can only hope that the teams touring England in the future can be persuaded to add warm up games in Ireland to their tours, the conditions are remarkably similar and the competition at least as strong as anything the counties can provide. the boxes are all being ticked, now we have to wait and see if the goalposts get moved again.

Posted by   on (September 14, 2013, 19:42 GMT)

Promotion relegation with 2 divisions of six is fine in theory, until Australia get relegated!

Posted by Whatsgoinoffoutthere on (September 14, 2013, 18:33 GMT)

What would stop the desertion of Ireland's best players to England? Test status wouldn't prevent players going, but it would delay selection for England & make it less attractive. However, the downside is that then Irish players would be classed as full "overseas" players, counties would be restricted & might not give them the experience that Ireland so desperately needs to keep it going in the right direction.

The ECB cannot avoid picking Irish arrivals who are good enough because that would be racial discrimination & contravenes EU legislation. However, that isn't to say that this situation isn't in their favour: having Ireland in its current position suits the ECB fine. I think it's time they were made to look at the bigger picture.

The ECB could do a lot for Ireland, playing regular games & maybe extending the county circuit to include a couple of Irish teams. The ICC could talk funding. India could mention IPL timing to the ECB. Carrots and sticks might get the job done.

Posted by tinysteelorchestra on (September 14, 2013, 18:27 GMT)

I'm a loyal England fan, but I'd love to see Ireland get Test status and I can entirely understand their frustration when the ECB come along and poach their best players. I think in time they would produce a fine side, and I think England should be supporting them in trying to progress, not hindering them.

Posted by   on (September 14, 2013, 18:01 GMT)

ireland deserves the test status....there should be division in icc test rankings..let ireland..bangladesh...zimbabweget more odi games..then more tests among them...they will that ability to show up against world champions

Posted by Warm_Coffee on (September 14, 2013, 15:29 GMT)

There should be ODI series and T20 series between Ireland and Bangladesh and Zimbabwe or maybe even a triangular series. I really hope there is because as a Bangladesh fan, our team for some silly reason is not getting enough games despite our crazy fan base. ICC needs to do more to help the weaker teams because they can do it. Ireland with the limited opportunities they get have tied and almost won the other game against Pakistan this year. Could've beaten England had it not been for their 2 Irish players that plays for England. Bangladesh in the last year have beaten India, West Indies and Sri Lanka several times in ODIs plus drawn a test match against Sri Lanka already this year. And Zimbabwe have not only beaten Pakistan in an ODI game but just won a test match against them. This proves that if weaker teams get enough Cricket then they will get better and better and Ireland is no different. Interesting article from the writer!!! was great to read along with other one recently.

Posted by _NEUTRAL_Fan_ on (September 14, 2013, 15:01 GMT)

I always thought that Ire should have received test status shortly after 2007 WC, almost purely for the sake of spreading the sport and also for the sake of adding another team to the FTP for Bang and Zim to compete against more often. It is a tragedy that Rankin is now lost and their golden generation of players are going to waste. It is time for the cricket to supersede the politics rather than the other way around. Just today, Zim, for all their struggles and loss of Kyle Jarvis, beat a decent Pak side, Ire seems to have better governance and financing, don't see why they shouldn't be given a chance to do the same.

Posted by tickcric on (September 14, 2013, 14:44 GMT)

In an ideal world England would help Ireland into top echelons of Cricket, India would do the same to Nepal, Pakistan to Afghanistan & Australia to PNG. Result: Cricket would spread and we would see more exciting World Cups & other international series/ tournaments. Truth though is cricket doesn't really care to spread itself.

Posted by Markdal on (September 14, 2013, 12:27 GMT)

Ireland are, essentially, the modern Sri Lanka. Teams would tour to India or Pakistan and would tack on a quick trip to Sri Lanka while there. The difference is, when SL were awarded Test status, they still had no 1st Class structure in place. Ireland are, according to the article, well in advance of SL on that detail. They are also internationally stronger than Bangladesh and Zimbabwe, who both have well-established 1st Class competitions. Obviously, the ICC only wants countries who will generate money.

Posted by   on (September 14, 2013, 11:15 GMT)

@Yevghenny, I'm a little puzzled by your answer, I don't think it is very coherent. Ireland's improvement, as you rightly point out, dates from the funds the ICC put into associate cricket in the 90's and 2000's.

But England have nothing to do with that. All the Irish players of the Morgan generation (White, the O'Briens, Wilson, Rankin, Morgan) played a large amount of international cricket prior to being picked up by counties. Even now, the likes of Porterfield, Stirling and Dockrell learned a lot more playing in competitive cricket for Ireland than they did in their time in various second-11s.

Yes Irish players play in England, but why should Ireland be grateful for this?

Now, the next generation of Irish cricketers are coming through the interpro system, which is higher than 2nd xi standard in England. If England really wanted to help Irish cricket, they should allow 2 spaces in the T20 trophy for a southern and northern Irish side.

Posted by Yevghenny on (September 14, 2013, 10:38 GMT)

So Graemo, you genuinely believe Irish players are only playing for England, not because they have been in County cricket for the last 15 years, but from their time before that in the Irish game? You do know Morgan was playing for Middlesex in 2006? Why is it if England are poaching from this hotbed of talent all the time, were there no other players than Joyce from 1999? A time when Ireland only just went from being a bunch of club cricketers to a fledgling associate? Why completely ignore the total lack of cricketing interest/infrastructure in Ireland prior to 2007 world cup, or how Ireland would possibly be expected to get players up to international standard without English county cricket.

Why isn't Morgan in England's test side by the way? And what about the rest of the ireland squad, how many players who HAVEN'T played County cricket extensively and have come through the famed Irish system would get a game for all these other nations? Way to make a point!

Posted by   on (September 14, 2013, 10:37 GMT)

SL ,Pak AND BNG don't have any first class system and still they are playing Ireland will obviously do better than these countries.

Posted by   on (September 14, 2013, 10:34 GMT)

Excellent articles Its a privilege to read the both stories. I can only wish for Ireland and believe they can win world cup one day.And as far test cricket they will play before 2020 and its certain.

Posted by   on (September 14, 2013, 10:10 GMT)

@Yevghenny

You are getting this the wrong way round, English teams didn't decide to give Irish players an opportunity, Irish players were good enough to get a chance at counties then performed. All the Irish players playing in England learned their trade in Ireland, with the obvious exception of Murtagh, only Joyce played in Eng pre-2007.

The Irish have no reason to be thankful that their players are good enough to play in (and for) England. As for the argument that none of the Irish players are good enough to play test cricket, it's utter rubbish. Two of them HAVE played test cricket, currently Morgan would get into any test side apart from SA and possibly India, Joyce would get into NZ, PAK, ZIM, SL, BAN, and possibly WI, and Rankin would get a run in every test side except SA.

I don't think there is a single player in the Irish squad who would not get a game for ZIM or BAN, though whether they would all perform can only be guessed at.

Posted by KingAjmal on (September 14, 2013, 9:53 GMT)

And because of these 3 countries England, Australia and India, Cricket though a great sport is still yet an unpopular one. But Ireland are the team that will change all that in the near future it looks like with the way they are developing. To be fair though, if Ireland still had the services of Morgan and Rankin and more funding then they currently get, I reckon they would be a extremely competitive limited overs team and could beat most teams but the long form they will seriously struggle for a pretty while. I reckon Ireland can produce much better pace bowlers not only than Bangladesh and Zimbabwe but even better pace bowlers than that of Sri Lanka, New Zealand and India. I would hate to see Ireland become another Kenya and would serious damage Cricket.

Posted by mihir_nam on (September 14, 2013, 9:42 GMT)

I Always say Give Ireland Test Status , Let them play Bangladesh ,Zimbabwe ,West Indies, New Zealand,Pakistan for first 5years..and first 2 Years only with Zimbabwe and Bangladesh. Don't put them in front of England Australia India South Africa Sri Lanka.. or they will be another Bangladesh.

There are teams like Afghanistan,PNG,Nepal who have locally cricket popular even somewhat Kenya Uganda. USA has nearly 3-4 millions Indians must be Pakistani's and Sri Lankans Bangladeshi , West Indians so total migrants from Cricket playing countries would be 7-8millions which is larger than New Zealand ..So cricket can seriously grow in USA if marketed properly...Same with Canada..UAE and other Arab countries.. RSA can help NAmibia build good team Also Croatia Italy is taking liking for sport

Posted by Yevghenny on (September 14, 2013, 9:37 GMT)

Graemo, there is no cricketing infrastructure in ireland or more than a minority support for the game. Yes it is increasing all the time, but it's so laughable how much you underestimate how much it's gonna take to get up to international standard.

Currently there are two Ireland players in the odi squad for england, neither up to test standard. When Morgan was a young teenager harboring ambitions to play for England, Ireland weren't even an associate nation - just club cricketers! What is someone who has ambitions of international matches supposed to do if his own country doesn't even like cricket? Just because nearly 20 years later attitudes are changing, does that now mean that you can claim the non-existent system is being short changed, or at least credit England for giving Irish players an opportunity?

As for England only playing them every so often, what difference will playing 3 odi's every year make? And why is that particular responsibility solely on Eng?

Posted by   on (September 14, 2013, 9:08 GMT)

@Yevghenny

I'm sick and tired of England fans (of whom I'm one) thinking that England are somehow doing Ireland favours. What favours are they doing?

They send a weakened team once every two years with the sole intention of stopping Ireland from selling TV rights to games staged between third parties on Irish soil. Oh yes they "let" Irish players play in the County Championship as non-overseas players. Well, no. EU law states they have to, and every single Irish player (around 15 now) in England is there on merit.

The only English institution who truly helps Irish cricket in a disinterested way is the MCC, who regularly select promising Irish cricketers for their Young Cricketers program, and all credit to them for that.

Posted by geoffrey22 on (September 14, 2013, 9:02 GMT)

The issue should be what is reality, in Football Spain ranked No.1 can play a country ranked 150 and it is regarded as a full international,in Rugby Union New Zealand can beat Japan 145-17 no problem in a world cup game other century scores have been recorded, still Test matches,I think so,In Rugby League Australia can score 110 points against Russia or 86 against South Africa in World cup games again no problem with that,Ireland should be given Test status as well as Scotland and probably Canada and Kenya.Nobody is asking Ireland to have a five test series in England or Canada to embark on a 3 month tour of Australia,if the game goes backwards remove Test Status,but I can tell you one thing for certain,Australia,South Africa and England are more likely to score 600 for 3 in Bangladesh or Zimbabwe then on an overcast day on a green top seaming wicket in Ireland or Scotland.

Posted by Yevghenny on (September 14, 2013, 8:51 GMT)

I am sick to death of the total lack of respect England get for all they do for Irish cricket, there is never any balance to this argument, it's just "England steal all these players from Irish cricket"

Posted by   on (September 14, 2013, 8:39 GMT)

Ireland, Afghanistan and Kenya are the only associate nations where locals have taken up the game of cricket and that is what really matters. These three nations must be given all possible assistance to grow even more in cricket. At the same time these nations also should not loose hope and keep trying even harder.

Posted by TheRisingTeam on (September 14, 2013, 8:37 GMT)

Well for definitely Ireland even Afghanistan should be playing lots of ODIs than they currently do. Their players are already playing domestically all over the world even Club Cricket but you also want that International experience along the way so that these associate teams and players can truly develop and challenge the major teams at its fullest especially at International tournaments which already gets criticism. I see no reason why there can't be a full ODI series between Ireland and Bangladesh/Zimbabwe. Unlike these 2 teams, a lot of Irish players play in English domestic circuit so that gives Ireland that extra bit of edge. Great to see people like Jarrod Kimber supportive of Irish Cricket!!! a true Cricket fan.

Posted by   on (September 14, 2013, 7:48 GMT)

The ICC need to scrap the FTP and replace it with a two year - 20 tests per team relegation & promotion system. The system could be SIX teams per division with FOUR tests per series (two home & two away). The divisions should be based on rankings at end of 2013 but currently this would be: (A) South Africa, England, India, Pakistan, Australia & West Indies. (B) Sri Lanka, New Zealand, Zimbabwe, Bangladesh, Ireland & other ICup finalist. Every two years the winner of ICup final should replace the 12th team and 6th & 7th should swop.

Posted by   on (September 14, 2013, 7:22 GMT)

Have they considered being in the good books of a particular board? They might get test status and more within a week ;) Soccer or Cricket the Irish play with such passion. Give them test status at least for their writer's who gave the world such books as Angela's Ashes, etc

Posted by 51n15t9r on (September 14, 2013, 7:17 GMT)

I simply don't get why Ireland should not be playing a format that Bangladesh has been playing for over 10 years. Lets face it, Bangladesh are evolving and are doing better and better in each game, but if you give a chance to Bangladesh but not to Ireland, its just unfair. I personally feel ECB does not want Ireland to become a test nation. They get some of their best One day players from the country and they are the only ones who stand to lose if Ireland gets test status - not the game of cricket which will only be enriched by the quality and the passion of the players from this country.

Posted by   on (September 14, 2013, 5:25 GMT)

I think Ireland are probably the most deserving cricket team that has not gotten its fair share of matches, ODIs or T20, against top nations. They seem good enough to win more matches than Bangladesh and Zimbabwe against top nations. ICC, what more do you want them to do before they get test status or more ODIs?

Posted by   on (September 14, 2013, 5:20 GMT)

had Ireland be given test status atleast 2yrs back they would have progressed more,despite the lack of competitive cricket and the exodus of irish players to England they are still giving hard time to test nation and are clearly head and shoulder above any associate nation.Its high time for ICC to grant them test status.

Posted by yogesh.gg on (September 14, 2013, 4:42 GMT)

They should hire Dev What-more as their head coach !! :)

Posted by ODI_BestFormOfCricket on (September 14, 2013, 4:17 GMT)

feeling nice after reading these (two parts) article. Very suprise to hear that ireland had played cricket in 1900's. This article conveys irish peoples anger, anticipation.

Posted by   on (September 14, 2013, 3:03 GMT)

If ICC & BCCI are actually looking to promote cricket globally, one good option might be to allow IPL franchisees to have in the 11, 4 one Associate member rep instead of the 7 mandatory Indians.

Posted by shillingsworth on (September 13, 2013, 21:18 GMT)

Once again the rubbish about England 'stealing Irish players'. If a player doesn't want to be 'stolen' by England, they can simply turn down a county contract or refuse to be considered for England selection. It seems an odd sort of theft where the perpetrator doesn't have custody of the goods he has allegedly pilfered.

I also struggled with the bit which measures the intelligence of a cricket crowd by the amount players are booed. When I got to the statement that the 'big 3' stage all ICC tournaments, I gave up - ICC World T20 2010, hosted by West Indies; 2012, Sri Lanka; 2014, Bangladesh.

Yes, I get the message - evil England, poor downtrodden Ireland etc. Why let the facts get in the way?

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