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Cash crisis forces Cricket Ireland to axe home Test against Bangladesh and three T20 internationals

 

Fixtures off: Ireland captain Andrew Balbirnie (left) will not be celebrating any home Test match success in 2020
Fixtures off: Ireland captain Andrew Balbirnie (left) will not be celebrating any home Test match success in 2020
Warren Deutrom

By Ian Callender

Ireland will not play a home Test match until 2021 at the earliest after Cricket Ireland yesterday called off the scheduled five-day game against Bangladesh next May because of financial constraints.

And in a major blow in the countdown to the T20 World Cup next October, the visit of Afghanistan for three T20 internationals has also been cancelled, those games due to take place just two months before the finals in Australia.

In a detailed statement yesterday, chief executive Warren Deutrom admitted the company was struggling to meet the "financial headwinds we have faced as we transition from an Associate Member to the operations required of a Full Member".

He went on: "The costs associated with delivering to Full Membership standards and fulfilling a much greater number of international fixtures each year has not been matched by expected revenues and a number of key unforeseen financial blows."

To be fair to Cricket Ireland, the sport's governing body ICC have failed to provide the promised increased finance on their elevation to Full Member status in 2017 and that shortfall is expected to continue until 2023 when a new ICC Funding Model will be developed.

Ireland are now part of the Future Tours Programme (FTP) and, when released last year, it gave the 11th Full Member nation 13 Test matches, 62 one-day internationals and 65 T20Is by the end of 2022 - outside of tournaments and global events.

In the first 18 months of the FTP, Ireland, who appointed Andrew Balbirnie as captain across all three formats only two weeks ago, have already played an extra Test - against England at Lord's - and a T20 Tri-Series against Scotland and Netherlands. But the reality of their financial situation is starting to bite.

Explaining the decision to cut the Bangladesh Test, Deutrom said: "The first area for prioritisation for 2020 has been white-ball cricket over red ball. For effectively a 'friendly', the expecting costs for hosting the Test would be over €1m, with little expectation of creating revenue streams to cover the costs."

Bangladesh will still be visiting Ireland in May but will now play only three ODIs and four T20Is.

That will be followed by the visit of New Zealand for three ODIs and three T20Is plus two T20Is against Pakistan.

"However, we have notified the Afghanistan Cricket Board that we shall not be in a position to host them for the five planned T20Is in 2020," said Deutrom.

Ireland are still due to play Afghanistan in India in March but that itinerary has not been finalised, though it is widely acknowledged that the proposed Test match will not take place and the tour is now expected to be exclusively T20 action.

The one-off Test against Sri Lanka, due to played in Galle in February, also has yet to be confirmed by the Sri Lankan board, despite them having already announced dates and venues for a two-match series against England in March.

The other Test match in the FTP for Ireland next year is due to take place in Zimbabwe in April, in a tour also including five T20Is, but there is still no news of those fixtures either.

The reduction in next year's home programme also explains why the Match Allocation Group has been asked to revisit their nominated venues.

With Clontarf out of action because of renovation work, CI were faced with the problem of having more matches than fresh international pitches so "we cannot confirm anything until we have confirmed everything".

The CI release ends by saying "we are still hopeful of hosting the inaugural season of the Euro T20 Slam in 2020". That financial boost is now more important than ever.

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