Ireland on path to Test status
Under the terms of the new ICC constitution, which was agreed on Wednesday and will be formally ratified in June, associate members can be promoted to full member status if they meet the ICC’s qualifying criteria regarding playing standards and good governance.
Ireland and Afghanistan have already met the ICC qualifying conditions, so the two leading associate nations will be given Test status in June and could each receive US$55m [€50m] from the ICC’s television revenue earnings over an eight-year cycle.
Cricket Ireland chief executive Warren Deutrom says Ireland are determined to learn the lessons offered by Bangladesh, the last associate nation to be promoted to full member status in 2000, who struggled in their early years but beat England in a Test match for the first time in their history last year.
“We intend to ask the ICC to continue to give us support in those “value-in-kind” areas they currently give us as an associate, such as education, high-performance support and athlete management systems,” he said.
“You don’t go to being a full member overnight in terms of structures when you only have a staff of 20.
“That was a lesson learned by Bangladesh, who warned the ICC in 2000 that it would take some time for them to get up to speed.”
Deutrom hopes the first Test match on Irish soil will take place in summer 2018, but warns that scheduling issues may delay Ireland’s Test debut until the following year.
“We have plans in our head for potential opponents, but we aren’t able to share those at the moment,” Deutrom said.
“It would feel odd not playing multi-day cricket in 2018, so a Test match that summer is something we will explore, but the task of finding a window for it should not be underestimated.”
If Ireland fail to find room in their calendar in 2018, Ireland could begin their Test journey in a one-off game against England at Lord’s ahead of the 2019 Ashes summer, a fixture first promised in 2014 by then England & Wales Cricket Board chairman Giles Clarke to the winners of the now-defunct “Test Challenge”.
“We haven’t let that offer fall off the ECB’s radar, let’s put it that way,” Deutrom continued.
“The restructuring of international cricket could be transformational for the cricket calendar, so at this stage it is nothing more than aspirational, but it would be fantastic if it did happen.”
Tim Murtagh, the 35-year-old London-born fast bowler who qualified for Ireland in 2012 under the grandfather rule, hopes to lead the bowling attack if Ireland are invited to play England at Lord’s.
Murtagh, who represented England at the 2000 U19 World Cup, came close to an England call-up in 2008 after taking 104 wickets for Middlesex.
“Apparently, I was talked about as a potential England player during my first couple of years at Middlesex, but my missus works for the ECB, so it might have been someone just saying that to be nice to her,” he said.
“It never happened, but there are no regrets.
“But now there is a chance that I could play for Ireland at Lord’s, and that would be magnificent, that would be everything.”