Ian Callender, Newsletter
Sachin Tendulkar and Ricky Ponting, two of the biggest names in world cricket will be playing in Belfast this summer.
Stormont has been confirmed as the venue for three One-day internationals between India, the most attractive and powerful batting line-up in world cricket, and Australia, the current world champions.
The made-for-television series will be a "substantial windfall" for the Irish Cricket Union following their disappointment at losing out on a guaranteed 130,000 pounds after Ireland's failure to reach the final of the World League.
Officials from the Board of Cricket Control in India are due in Belfast next week to finalise the deal which is sure to attract three more capacity gates to Stormont which successfully staged Ireland's first One-Day international, against England, last June.
Twelve months on, for the first time ever, two Test nations - arguably the top two on the world stage - will meet each other on Irish soil. The dates will be June 27, June 29 and July 1 and with one million Indians living in Great Britain, there is sure to be an aggregate of 20,000 people watching the three games, plus millions more watching live on Indian television.
Word leaked out yesterday following a board meeting in India when BCCI secretary Niranjan Shah told reporters: "We will play against Australia in the last week of June. We have chosen Ireland as the venue and details are being worked out."
The man behind the deal is the ICU's new chief executive Warren Deutrom who, alongside chairman Dr Murray Power, met Indian officials in Mumbai during the Champions Trophy in October.
The United States and Canada were the first choice of venue - because of the June date it had to be staged in the northern hemisphere - but concerns over spectator interest forced India to look elsewhere. Deutrom, who in October was still Events manager at ICC, was in pole position to put forward Ireland's case for hosting the series, which is part of the Test nations' commitment to play one-day series in Associate countries.
Indian officials were fully aware of the success of last year's international at Stormont and that has won the ICU the honour of hosting such a lucrative and glamour series.
With the informal announcement being made on the day that Scotland lost in the final of the World League, it was double disappointment for the Scots who may have pipped Ireland on the field in Nairobi but have lost, in some style, off the field.