Ireland ready for Test cricket debut

Nick Said

Ireland will make a giant leap when they host their first Test match against Pakistan from Friday in Dublin.

Ireland will become the first team to debut in the Test format since Bangladesh in 2000, after being awarded full member status by the International Cricket Council (ICC) last June along with Afghanistan.

The elevation will be a slow introduction to the game's longest format, according to Cricket Ireland CEO Warren Deutrom.

"We have done things in the opposite way to the norm," Deutrom told Reuters.

"Normally a game becomes a major sport in their country first and they then use that to create success on an international stage.

"But Irish cricket has become successful on the international stage initially, punching above our weight, and we are using that to hopefully become a mainstream sport in Ireland.

"Will Test cricket be the format to bring people to the sport in Ireland? The answer is probably 'no'. But we wouldn't anticipate playing more than one or two Test matches at home per year, probably up until 2022. Then we can look again thereafter.

"We are adopting a less-is-more approach, to develop a brand of hosting Test cricket without it becoming too financially unsustainable."

Deutrom says full-member status provides certainty ... an important step forward in developing the game in Ireland.

"The tangible benefits are more funding from the ICC and the ability to guarantee more fixtures across all three formats in the coming years that will improve our players.

"We have a very good diet of multi-format cricket coming up, of which the mainstay will be the one-day international league. We will have 60 to 65 fixtures over the next four or five years, and that is just at home.

"If you are relying on one or two stand-alone fixtures in a season, then that is never enough to generate consistent spectator and media interest.

"By virtue of all of these things, cricket will become more visible in Ireland, which will hopefully get kids playing the sport in greater numbers. Having the opportunity to wear the green shirt of Ireland as a professional international sportsperson ... few major sports can offer that.

"We were a bit unsure about how many temporary seats to put up (in Malahide for the Test), as we are trying to bed down an unfamiliar format to many in Ireland, but we settled on 6300."