CRICKET Ireland are playing the waiting game but chief executive Warren Deutrom has given the biggest hint yet that he does not expect any of their home internationals this summer to go ahead as scheduled.
Next month’s seven-match series against Bangladesh has already been postponed and he has admitted the three one-day internationals and three Twenty20 internationals against New Zealand in June and the two T20Is against Pakistan in July may follow if government restrictions remain in place.
Currently, the earliest the season here can start is May 29 but while Deutrom did not announce an extension to the delay, he said “we will have to be pragmatic, but Irish cricket fans should rest assured we shall do all we can to hold viable competitions this year”.
He added: “It depends largely on the date we can get some form of cricket under way, but one scenario we are looking at is to play as many inter-provincials as possible on weekdays only. This will give clubs the maximum opportunity to utilise their grounds for play on weekends and enable some clubs to generate revenue through activities such as bar takings.
“We will work closely with provincial unions and clubs on the great jigsaw puzzle of fixture scheduling that lies ahead.”
The complication in staging the remaining international fixtures is that visiting teams and their support staff will require visas — applications are currently not being processed — and both New Zealand, due to play games in Bready and Stormont, and Pakistan, who have matches in Malahide, may not even be in a position to travel to Europe, depending on the advice from their own governments.
“More specific to our situation, New Zealand and Pakistan are visiting multiple countries on their tours, so that adds an extra layer of complexity,” added Deutrom.
“Then there are more logistical issues such as hotel and international flight bookings, the movement and staffing of broadcast facilities and complying with the restrictions that may still exist around large group gatherings. So we wait and watch.”
The women’s squad also face a dilemma because the ICC have yet to call off the 50-over World Cup Qualifier, scheduled for Sri Lanka in early July, and “if the tournament somehow did proceed then we would have to look at warm-up or preparation matches. Where, when, against whom — these are still great unknowns for us,” added Deutrom.
The comments come in the wake of last week’s board meeting which confirmed that Cricket Ireland would continue with all regular payments to the provincial unions, which go towards essential running costs.
The board, however, voted to cut the salaries of all non-playing staff by 20% until the end of May and Deutrom is taking a 25% reduction for the last nine months of the year.
Northern Ireland employees have also been furloughed until the end of May, in line with the UK government’s job retention scheme.
However, the contracted playing staff will continue to be paid in full as they are “already losing out significantly through loss of match fees from a number of already postponed and possibly to be postponed series and that to ask them to take a further cut to their base remuneration — with no guarantee that all cricket might be rescheduled — would be unreasonable”, said the chief executive.
Meanwhile, the Cricket Ireland AGM, due to take place on Sunday week, has been postponed until “a date that could ensure physical attendance by members”.