Ireland and Afghanistan left frustrated by the weather
Ian Callender (Irish Daily Mail)
After five ground inspections it was rain which had the final say on Ireland's World Cricket League game against Afghanistan in Clontarf yesterday, with play abandoned for the day at 3.30pm.
Sodden run-ups were the main reason why play never started, despite it being dry for most of the morning and no teams were announced. They will try again today, although the overnight rain immediately puts hopes of a prompt start, at 10.45am, in serious doubt.
Watching the non-action, just five days into his new job, was ICC president Alan Issac. The New Zealander flew straight from the annual conference in Malaysia last week to watch the leading two Associates and he confirmed he was a big supporter of cricket below Test level.
"Absolutely, I'm a supporter of the Associates," he said. It's consistent with the (ICC's) Strategic Plan. I'd a lot to do with helping the staff, helping to get that through. The board is made up of some different people from that time, but the document is there and that's the vision."
So what does he make of Cricket Ireland's vision to achieve Test status by 2020?
"That's a more difficult question to answer as it raises the whole question where the three formats of the game sit. But, I think, if you are serious about playing cricket you have to aspire to be the best Test player and if you want to be serious about being a cricket nation then that's a good aspiration to have," added Mr Issacs.
"The facts stand for themselves that cricket in Ireland has developed dramatically since 2007 with the win (over Pakistan) in the World Cup."
One of the resolutions passed at the ICC's annual conference last week was a guaranteed €1.5m for Cricket Ireland over the next four years, likely to be used for the development programme and getting more games against Test countries. The top Associates have been promised 12-15 ODIs a year but will it happen?
"One of the challenges is the Full Members all have a committed schedule up to 2020, so it's a question of working them in. At the same time there's a proliferation of so-called domestic leagues, so there's lots of pressure, but there's been really good progress.
" It was really disappointing for Ireland that last week's game against Australia was rained off, but I see more of that happening. I know Ireland are working closer with the ECB which should see more games with England and also as countries tour England.
"I saw the same thing in New Zealand where we we struggling when the FTP (Future Tours Programme) was in its early stages, trying to get sides to come to play. So we said if there are two sides coming to play Australia around the tri-series, why doesn't the second side who's not playing the Test matches come across and play some matches in New Zealand. That worked well and helped develop NZ cricket.
"As a concept it works, it just needs a bit of co-operation," said the president.
Mr Issacs also explained why the ICC board went down the road of a 10-team Full Member World Cup in 2015, since overturned on the recommendation of his predecessor.
"I wasn't involved in NZ cricket when the 10-team decision was made, but one of reasons for that view was because 1992 with nine countries (also staged in Australia and New Zealand) was a fantastic success, particularly from a New Zealand point of view, because we reached the semi finals, and also because there were 87,000 at the final between England and Pakistan.
"That format where everybody played everybody was very popular and arguably is ideal. (But) the process for 2019 is in place and the qualification (for a 10-team World Cup) is there."