Pakistan have been confirmed as Ireland’s first ever Test opponents after the two respective boards converged on a deal at the ICC Board meeting at Auckland in New Zealand.
Cricket Ireland had been in discussion with the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) in the past few weeks with a view to arrange a Test between the two countries in Ireland’s own backyard next summer.
Following the ICC Board meeting, it has been decided that the aforementioned Test will take place in May next year through the venue, though dates have yet to be announced.
Pakistan are scheduled to visit England for a full series starting in May next year and the Test with Ireland shall take place sometime before the start of that tour.
Ireland and Afghanistan became the newest Full Members of the ICC this June after being granted Test status in the ICC Annual General meeting in London.
Cricket Ireland’s CEO Warren Deutrom was understandably overjoyed when confirming the new on Thursday.
“We are excited to welcome Pakistan to Ireland for our inaugural Test match next year. It has been our wish to make our Test debut in front of our own fans within 12 months of becoming a Test nation, and against a big team, so I’m delighted,” Deutrom said.
“There is a lot of work to do from now to ensure that it will be an occasion to remember but we, and I’m sure our players and fans, can’t wait to rise to it,” Deutrom added.
“We would like to thank the Pakistan Cricket Board most sincerely for agreeing to be our first opponent in Test cricket – the Pakistan team has been a regular visitor to our shores in recent years, and their agreement to be our opponent on this important occasion for Irish cricket is further evidence of their terrific support.”
Ireland captain William Porterfield welcomed the historic development for Irish cricket and is looking forward to playing Pakistan again.
“It’s fantastic news for Irish cricket. It’s going to be a bit special and it’s always great to be a part of history,” he said.
“There’s a special affinity between ourselves and Pakistan going back to the 2007 World Cup and they’ve been regular tourists here over the past decade.
“Test cricket is the pinnacle of our sport and I know how much this game will mean to not only the players but all involved with Irish cricket. It’ll be another step on what has been an incredible journey for our sport in a relatively short passage of time.
“It’s sure to be an incredible and emotional experience for all involved. I know how much this will mean to all the players and just how much we all will forward to our dream of being Test cricketers realised.
“I’m certain there will be an incredible atmosphere from both sets of fans who will be keen to witness a piece of history.”
The International cricket Council unveiled a long-awaited, nine-nation Test championship Friday in a bid to preserve the five-day format’s status following the rapid growth of Twenty20.
The Test league was among a raft of reforms agreed at an ICC board meeting in Auckland, including revamping the one-day international schedule and trialling four-day Tests.
“Our priority was to develop (a) structure that gave context and meaning across international cricket and particularly in the Test arena,” ICC chief David Richardson said in a statement.
The Test league will start in 2019 and see nine teams play six series over two years – three home and three away. It will culminate in a final between the two top teams at Lord’s.
The ICC has argued for years that a Test championship is needed to boost the format’s popularity as crowds and TV viewers flock to the fast-paced, big-hitting Twenty20 version of the game.
It first appointed a committee to examine the concept back in 1998. But squabbling over formats, and fears that some nations will be disadvantaged, have twice stymied efforts to launch a league structure since 2010.
— ICC (@ICC) October 13, 2017
“Bringing context to bilateral cricket is not a new challenge, but this is the first time a genuine solution has been agreed on,” ICC chairman Shashank Manohar said.
The nine nations in the competition are Australia, Bangladesh, England, India, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka, and West Indies.
Cricket Australia chief James Sutherland called it “a really significant moment in international cricket history”.
“It’s a tremendous step forward. The ICC and member countries have made a strong statement about international cricket and how we want to make sure it remains at the forefront of the three forms of the game.”
Chief Executive David Richardson speaks about the new Test and ODI leagues after the ICC meetings in Auckland. pic.twitter.com/HvjzZXohlZ
— ICC Media (@ICCMediaComms) October 13, 2017
The ICC will hope it’s a case of third time lucky for the Test championship after two previous attempts failed without a ball being bowled in anger.
A version was supposed to begin in 2013 but was scrapped because existing commercial arrangements meant the ICC was obliged to stage the one-day Champions Trophy instead.
Then plans for a June 2017 launch were scuppered when some of the game’s powerbrokers, including India, objected to a proposed two-tier league system, saying smaller teams would be disadvantaged.
There was also a reported lack of interest from television companies.
Purists view Test cricket as the pinnacle of the sport but it has struggled, particularly in Asia, as lucrative T20 competitions such as the Indian Premier League caught the public’s imagination.
A recent innovation designed to reverse the trend is the introduction of day-night Test matches, which moves playing sessions to more spectator-friendly hours after dark.
The Auckland meeting also agreed to experiment with four-day Tests, with South Africa and Zimbabwe set to trial the first in December.
Richardson emphasised that the shorter Test matches were only being trialled and their results would not be part of the new Test championship.
“Throughout the discussions about the future of Test cricket it became clear… we must also consider alternatives and trial initiatives that may support the future viability of Test cricket,” he said.
The ICC will also establish a 13-nation one-day international league starting in 2020, with results counting towards World Cup qualification.
It argued that the league structure would give added context to Test and ODI fixtures, rather than the current system of bilateral series which have little bearing on other teams.
Provided by AFP Sport
Guwahati, the venue for the recently concluded second T20I between India and Australia, showed its ugly side when miscreants threw a rock at the visitors’ team bus while it was on the way to the hotel.
Australia’s opener Aaron Finch had posted an image of the shattered window of the team bus on his Twitter profile on Tuesday night.
The 30-year-old batsman had accompanied the pic with a caption which said, “Pretty scary having a rock thrown through the team bus window on the way back to the hotel!!”
The visitors had thrashed India by eight-wickets in the match to square the three-match series at 1-1.
Pretty scary having a rock thrown through the team bus window on the way back to the hotel!! pic.twitter.com/LBBrksaDXI
— Aaron Finch (@AaronFinch5) October 10, 2017
On Wednesday, Guwahati showed its classy side when hundreds of cricket supporters turned up at the Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International airport to bid the Australian team farewell along with a profound apology.
Guwahati, a city mostly imbibed with football fever, welcomed back international cricket after an eight year long hiatus at the newly inaugurated Barsapara Cricket stadium on Tuesday.
A large crowd of fans had gathered at the airport for the arrival of both teams on Sunday and a similarly large gathering turned up on Wednesday along with placards carrying messages of apology for the rock throwing incident.
The main message of the placards carried by the fans was “Sorry Australia.”
While incidents such as that of Tuesday are deplorable, the true passionate supporters of the city have shown what international cricket means to them.
With the fear of Guwahati being sidelined for future India matches, one can hope that the gesture shown by the fans on Wednesday will get it a reprieve.
The two sides will meet at Hyderabad for the final T20I on Friday which will mark the culmination of Australia’s limited-overs tour of India.