The Board of Cricket Ireland has called for an immediate review of the Inter-Provincial Series to consider the current structure and whether improvements can be made ahead of the 2019 season, at its recent Board Meeting held at Ballymascanlon House Hotel on 7 November 2018.

The Board began by voicing its heartfelt support for the Ireland Women’s team, which is set to start its World T20 campaign on Sunday. The Board acknowledged the intensive preparation programme that had been developed by Head Coach Aaron Hamilton and his support staff.

The Board also acknowledged the recent retirements of Niall O’Brien and John Anderson, registering their appreciation for the significant commitment and contributions both players have made to Irish cricket.

Inter-Provincial Series review

The Board then discussed the Inter-Provincial competition, and supported a proposal for the Inter-Provincial Structure Working Group to convene in order to undertake a review of all aspects of the competition. The Board directed that recommendations, which should include input from Provincial Unions and the Irish Cricketers Association, having been considered by the Cricket and High Performance Committees, should be brought forward to its December meeting on how the competition can be made stronger, and better ensure there is a pipeline of talent feeding into the international system.

Richard Holdsworth, Cricket Ireland Performance Director, said:

“The Board endorsed the recommendation to begin an immediate review and ensure the competition adapts to our changing circumstances. Much has changed since the revival of the Inter-Pros in 2013, most notably the granting of first class status, the achievement of full membership, the introduction of our first Inter-Pro contracts, and, perhaps most significantly, the door all-but-closing on the English County system as a development/finishing school for Irish players.”

“All major cricket nations have strong, competitive domestic first-class systems that feed talent into their senior international team. While the Inter-Pros has shown the potential, time is against us given the age-profile of our senior squad and the disappearance of the County pathway, so there is consensus that we need to further increase the standard and professionalism of the competition. The competition is where our best young players need to be gaining regular, competitive cricket experience.”

“The Working Group will examine ways in which we can ensure the competition is facilitating best v best, and make recommendations around the volume of matches played and whether or not a fourth team may be required in the 50-over and 3-day cricket competitions. While there was some speculation within cricket circles that there was a proposal to reduce Munster Reds involvement in the IP20s, the Board made it clear that this was not envisaged, however it would await the outcome of the Working Group review before any definitive decisions were made.”

High Performance cricket programme

The Board also received a presentation from Andrew White (Chairman of National Men’s Selectors) and Graham Ford (National Men’s Head Coach) on season 2018 and the next four year selection and succession strategy for the senior men’s team, up to and including the 2022 Cricket World Cup Qualifier. The presentation addressed central contracts, selection policy, succession planning and the need to invest further in facilities and the talent pathway. The Board noted that 19 central contracts for 2019 will be offered by the end of November, and the Ireland Wolves squad to Sri Lanka in late December will be announced by the end of November.

2019 International fixtures

The Board received a proposal for approval for the venue allocation of men’s international matches in 2019. An announcement will be made in due course about match allocations following further consultation with prospective venues. The Board also noted that an announcement was imminent about broadcast arrangements and media rights for various men’s internationals and acknowledged management’s work on delivering these key outcomes.

The Commercial Director updated the Board on ticketing timeframes for the England ODI, noting that that tickets will go on sale by the end of November. Details will be announced shortly.

Development and Participation Programme

The Board received an update on the review of cricket development and, in particular, the recent high-profile issues around proposed transference of operational responsibility for delivering strategic objectives around grass-roots/schools from Cricket Ireland to the Provincial Unions. The Board noted the current consultation process underway with those employees potentially impacted by the proposals, and re-stated Cricket Ireland’s commitment to ongoing funding of this area via the Unions.

Warren Deutrom, Cricket Ireland CEO said: “The Board acknowledged the difficulties inherent in this process, in particular trying to deal fairly, respectfully and – given the employer-employee relationship – confidentially, with some much-respected employees. This process has only ever been about implementing our strategic plan goal to ensure that responsibility for grass-roots activity should reside with the organisations that engage at this level on a daily basis, and that we continue to fund the Unions to do this. We shall continue the consultation process with our employees and reach a conclusion at the appropriate time.”

Governance updates

The Board was also updated on the new Governance Sub-Committee (GovCom). Ross McCollum, Chair of Cricket Ireland, said:

“The purpose behind forming GovCom is in the inherent interest of good governance. While Cricket Ireland is already regarded as a leader in governance within Irish sport, our continued journey to compliance with the Sport Ireland-endorsed Governance Code demands that we maintain the issue of the Board’s operational effectiveness under frequent review.”

“GovCom will review the Board’s terms of reference, Membership of the Board and its sub-committees, and Cricket Ireland’s ongoing adherence to the Governance code’s recommended practices.”

The Board endorsed the initial membership of GovCom as: Anne Nolan (Chair), Alan Waite, Joe Doherty, Frank Sowman, Murray Power and an independent governance expert that will be nominated following consultation with Sport NI and Sport Ireland.