Ireland set to take on New Zealand and Bangladesh next year
Ireland will host New Zealand and Bangladesh next year in the countdown to the 2017 Champions Trophy in England, as the leading Associate nation continue to make their presence felt on the world stage.
Eleven one-day internationals against Full Members have already been confirmed from June to September, but Cricket Ireland chief executive Warren Deutrom had promised even more going forward and yesterday announced the first four in 2017, more than a year out.
It will be the first opportunity for Ireland coach John Bracewell to test himself against his native country in what will be Ireland's first game against the Kiwis since 2008.
Bangladesh will be in Ireland for the first time in seven years and they will also play New Zealand twice in a six-match tri-series in May at venues to be confirmed.
The announcement was made at the Northern Ireland launch of Cricket Ireland's strategic plan 2016-2020 in the University of Jordanstown and Deutrom added: "Rather than getting nine or 10 ODIs in the four years between World Cups, we aim to play at least that number annually. For years now, we have been asking for more matches to test our players and now the ICC's new-look ODI table has given us the chance to become the team that John Bracewell wishes to shape - one that stays together and tours, rather than prepares purely for one-off games or major events."
Ireland international Andy McBrine, also present at the launch, was delighted to hear of the busy schedule.
"It's great for Irish cricket and a great time to be part of the Ireland set-up," said the Donemana all-rounder and North West Warriors captain. "I've had a decent run in the Ireland team since the turn of the year and you have to grab it with both hands to give the coach and selectors as many headaches as possible.".
The Warriors could be playing in La Manga next year with the money from new sponsors, the KPC Group, expediting Cricket Ireland's plans to ease the fixture congestion here by playing inter-pro games in early season or as late as September and even October at CI's new facility in Spain.
Indeed, the Ireland team could be there as early as this September for warm-weather training ahead of their ODIs in South Africa against their hosts and world champions Australia.