India and Australia will play three one-day internationals at the unlikely venue of Ireland in June and early July, the Indian cricket board announced on Wednesday, after an attempt to schedule a made-for-television series in the United States or Canada fell through due to a lack of venue readiness.
Under the conditions of an agreement signed between Zee TV and the Indian Cricket Board, India have to play 25 offshore ODIs over a five-year period, and following Ireland's successful hosting of the one-day international against England at Stormont in Belfast last June, officials have been in secret negotiations with the BCCI to bring further international cricket to their shores.
"Clearly there is an incentive to be hosting such events," Warren Deutrom, the chief executive of the Irish Cricket Union, told Cricinfo. "This is not just a major cricket match but a major sporting event, between two of the best sides in the world." Deutrom confirmed that the three matches would be held at Stormont on June 27, June 29 and July 1, but added that this would be subject to the finalising of terms.
For India, the series will be played as a warm-up for their tour of England in July, which comprises three Tests and seven one-dayers. "We will play against Australia in the last week of June," Niranjan Shah, the secretary of the Indian cricket board, told reporters. "We have chosen Ireland as the venue and details are being worked out."
The announcement adds another arduous leg to a hectic 12-month schedule for India's cricketers. After the World Cup ends in the Caribbean on April 28, India will tour Bangladesh in May for two Tests and three one-dayers, followed by the three-Test and seven-ODI tour of England, which ends on September 8.
The ICC's inaugural Twenty20 World Championships is then scheduled for some time in September, after which Australia tour India for seven ODIs in October, followed by Pakistan for three Tests and five ODIs in November and December. Then it's off to Australia in late December for four more Tests over Christmas and New Year, and a tri-series involving Sri Lanka which ends in the first week of March 2008. Even then there will be no respite, with South Africa arriving in India for a Test and ODI series in March and April.
It is not the first time that India and Australia have contested such matches on neutral venues. In August 2004, they were joined by Pakistan in a one-day triangular tournament in Amstelveen, Holland, although the series was ruined by rain.