Ireland will play white-ball series against India, New Zealand, South Africa and Afghanistan in their 2022 home summer but their wait for a Test match will stretch past three years after the postponement of their tour to Zimbabwe.
Cricket Ireland (CI) announced a near-complete fixture list for the men's international season on Tuesday, with the dates and venues for the Afghanistan series still unconfirmed. Warren Deutrom, CI's chief executive, said that the schedule represented "a record amount of men's cricket" for Ireland in a single summer, with three ODIs and 12 T20Is confirmed.
Ireland's tour of Zimbabwe, which was due to take place in April and include a Test match, has been postponed, while Bangladesh's multi-format series in Ireland has also been pushed back by a year to 2023 in order to help CI deal with their "facility constraints".
Ireland's most recent men's Test took place in July 2019 and their prolonged hiatus from five-day cricket prompted their captain Andy Balbirnie to say at the end of last year that their Full-Member status "only really feels like a name".
Ireland will also stage home fixtures in England for the first time when they play South Africa in Bristol on August 3 and 5 in a two-match T20I series. CI had previously planned to stage fixtures against Bangladesh on English soil in the 2020 season
to ensure that fresh pitches could be used at their main international venues, though the fixtures were cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
India are the first tourists of the summer, playing two T20Is at Malahide on June 26 and 28 ahead of their tour to England, which starts with last summer's rescheduled fifth Test at Edgbaston on July 1. India last played in Ireland in 2018, winning a two-match T20I series 2-0.
New Zealand will then play three ODIs and three T20Is between July 10 and 22, with the ODIs held at Malahide and the T20I leg of the tour at Stormont. New Zealand are also due to play Scotland and Netherlands in 2022, though fixtures are yet to be confirmed.
Following the series against South Africa in early August, the men's international summer will conclude with five T20Is against Afghanistan, with details yet to be confirmed. Afghanistan's tour was initially scheduled to include a Test match and three ODIs but CI said those fixtures would be "rescheduled to a future date". Deutrom said that the volume of T20I fixtures would be important ahead of October's T20 World Cup in Australia, for which Ireland qualified last week
after finishing as runners-up in Qualifier A in Oman.
"Arranging and allocating fixtures is always a complicated process given our facility constraints," Deutrom said in a press release. "These challenges require a juggling act around loading on our international pitches, hosting and touring costs, the needs of hosting clubs, reciprocity with opponents, scheduling our elite domestic competitions, profitability of fixtures and taking our men's and women's teams around the island. Of course, Covid has also played its part in shifting the sands of the FTP [Future Tours Programme].
"Taking all these into consideration, we decided to postpone both this year's planned tour to Zimbabwe in April and the home Bangladesh series into 2023. This will help alleviate some of these factors, spread the cost of men's cricket over two years, and also spread the fixture load across 2022 and 2023, in particular given that the World Cup's delay to the end of the year has left us to fill the 2023 home season.
"Even with these changes, we're still hosting a record amount of men's cricket against some of the world's top teams this year - with more exciting announcements to come around our women's fixtures. Just as importantly, with full crowds permitted to return, we look forward to seeing fans flock back to the grounds."
CI announced earlier this week that a new budget featuring a €317,000 (USD 353,000) investment in facilities - including in hybrid pitch technology - and an increase in funding for provincial unions, grassroots and women's cricket.
The report into the team's early exit from last year's T20 World Cup in the UAE has also been reviewed and discussed by CI's board. The report highlighted a dearth of "high-quality international fixtures" in the medium-term build-up to the tournament; recommended a restructure of the men's coaching set-up; and stressed the need for improved facilities, which Deutrom described as "one of the most urgent needs for Irish cricket" and "the number one priority on my desk".
Ireland men's home fixtures, 2022
June 26 - 1st T20I vs India, Malahide
June 28 - 2nd T20I vs India, Malahide
July 10 - 1st ODI vs New Zealand, Malahide
July 12 - 2nd ODI vs New Zealand, Malahide
July 15 - 3rd ODI vs New Zealand, Malahide
July 18 - 1st T20I vs New Zealand, Stormont
July 20 - 2nd T20I vs New Zealand, Stormont
July 22 - 3rd T20I vs New Zealand, Stormont
August 3 - 1st T20I vs South Africa, Bristol
August 5 - 2nd T20I vs South Africa, Bristol
Five T20Is vs Afghanistan in August, dates and venues TBC
Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @mroller98