Interpro Revamp To Be Unveiled

Cricket Ireland’s plans for the revamped interprovincial series have been agreed and are expected to be unveiled shortly. There’s no doubt that the current structures were unfit for purpose with Leinster’s almost total domination resulting in a competition that struggled to gain any foothold with the cricketing public.

The lack of competitive action has forced the governing body into a rethink and after a bit of horse trading between the Unions, their plans have been signed off.

There will be four teams in the Cup, as Munster will be admitted to the 50-over cup competition, but before you get the idea of a massive influx of Cork players, think again. It will be a case of Munster in name only with the vast majority if not all the players coming from outside the region. You can expect a squad composed of Pete Johnston’s Academy players, a few Ireland U19 players and possibly a few former overseas players attempting to qualify for Ireland.

Cricket Ireland will in fact have a massive input into all the squads with Graham Ford and his team outlining the 44 plus players who they want to see involved in their desire for a best versus best format.

The downside of this will be a severe loss of identity for some of the Unions, with the governing body having major control over personnel.

Will this have any actual effect on the tournament? It depends on how the personnel are distributed through the four provinces. If Leinster still have a squad of almost entirely senior internationals, then it would seem logical that they will continue to dominate.

Given the pandemic restrictions it seems logical to expect that once again there will be a diet of T20 and 50-over cricket only, with the first-class tournament not being staged in 2021. Given the costs involved in staging these three-day games, many of which have been badly affected by the weather and lack of adequate drainage, groundstaff and coverings, it seems there will be few tears shed by CI over their likely demise.

That seems a pity to me given that the establishment of a first-class structure was one of the ICC requirements for Full Membership. To abandon it so quickly would be a major error. However, as seen by the absence of home Tests, Cricket Ireland are prioritising the white-ball game.

Maybe if we ever do manage to build a stadium that will change, but 15 years after plans first began, we don’t appear to be any closer to that, unless I’ve missed something on progress at Abbotstown.

Irish And National Cups

There has been no update on word of the draws for the Irish and National Cups which usually take place in November. These draws and the interpro schedules are usually completed early to allow the unions to then draw up their own domestic fixtures. CI have been waiting for the appointment of an Operations Director and it seemed to have filled the role a few weeks ago but it appears the appointee may be having second thoughts – probably became aware of the cost of living in Dublin!

It would appear optimistic given the ravages of Covid that we will have either an Irish or National Cup in its normal format. If they do get the green light I can’t see teams travelling back and forward throughout Ireland. The best chance may be a format similar to that employed last year in the T20 All-Ireland with regional winners going forward to contest the final stages.

Wolves Ready To Bay

Ireland Wolves are due to tour Bangladesh next week and we still await news of the squad due to complications with the fixtures and potential isolation regulations in Ireland, Zimbabwe and Bangladesh and travel between the countries for those selected on both tours. A few of the Irish staff opted to stay put in the UAE at the end of the recent tour, with Mark Rausa and Chris Siddell working at the Abu Dhabi T10 competition. They are due to travel as part of the support staff for the Wolves next week. With Kevin O’Brien on the coaching staff, Niall O’Brien in the commentary box, and Paul Stirling playing a starring role on the field, there was plenty of Irish representation in the event.