Ireland will play their Intercontinental Cup match against Namibia at Stormont this year, after all. The game, originally scheduled for the last week in June, has been rearranged for September 6-9.
It was postponed last month because the Africans had visa difficulties and it was expected the game would be rescheduled for March, in the UAE, when both teams were in the Emirates for the Twenty20 World Cup qualifying tournament.
But, at the instigation of ICC and with agreement from Namibia, they will travel back to Belfast — they played and lost two one-day games at Stormont three weeks ago — for the four-day game at the start of September.
The new date is good news for Niall O’Brien who is expected to be available as Northants have no game that week, but Warwickshire, Sussex and Surrey are all in county championship action.
It will mean a hectic finish to the summer for the Ireland team as they host England in the glamour ODI in Dublin on Thursday August 25 and the week following the game against Namibia they will host Canada at Rathmines in the Intercontinental Cup and then in two ODIs on September 19 and 20 at Clontarf.
Meanwhile, with the big game between North Down and Waringstown postponed because of Waringstown’s cup final hangover, tomorrow’s top flight Ulster Bank league action focuses on the fight to avoid the drop into the new Premier League 2.
Next season, there will be only eight teams in each of the top two sections and although Bangor seem certainties to be relegated — they are still without a point after 10 games — the other relegation place is still in doubt.
Muckamore and Carrickfergus are the teams in peril at the moment, both are eight points (two wins) behind cup finalists Civil Service North, Lisburn and CIYMS.
Carrick will expect to leave Muckamore on their own in ninth place by tomorrow night as they have a home game against Bangor but Muckamore will have two games in hand because they were due to play CSN tomorrow.
The winners of the CI-Lisburn game will feel they have taken a giant stride to Premier League One cricket next season.
Both the cup finalists are back in league action on Sunday with Waringstown set to join North Down at the top of the table after their home game against Bangor while Civil Service North will join Instonians on six wins if they manage a victory at Shaw’s Bridge.
Tomorrow’s fixtures: Ulster Bank Premier League (noon): Ballymena v Instonians, Carrickfergus v Bangor, CIYMS v Lisburn
Section One: Derriaghy v Downpatrick, Holywood v Cliftonville, Millpark v Dundrum, Saintfield v Lurgan, Woodvale v Donacloney.
Section Two: BISC v Academy, Cooke Collegians v Laurelvale, Drumaness v Larne, Portadown v Dunmurry, Templepatrick v Armagh.
Sunday – Premier League: Instonians v CIYMS, Waringstown v Bangor.
Section One: Cliftonville v Dundrum, Downpatrick v Woodvale
Section Two: Armagh v Drumaness, Templepatrick v Academy.