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England and Australia visits set up golden 2015 for Irish cricket

By Ian Callender

After this year's virtual famine of international fixtures for Ireland – there are only six more days of action – there will be a feast for cricket fans here with the visits of BOTH England and Australia in 2015 plus the World Twenty20 qualifying tournament.

England and Australia have been regular visitors to Ireland since 2009, the countries alternating for five successive years to ensure a plum fixture for the team and home spectators but either side of next summer's Ashes series, both countries will be playing in Ireland at venues to be confirmed.

The date for the Australia game has already been confirmed as Thursday August 27, 2015 with the England match likely to take place earlier in the season, probably just before or after the five-match ODI series with England's first visitors next year, New Zealand, which will be played from June 9-23.

Following the huge success of the England team's visit to Malahide last year, when almost 10,000 people packed into Ireland's new, first-choice international venue, the north Dublin club will be favourites to host the game again.

But that means Australia could be set to return to Belfast, where their last game against Ireland, in June 2012, was so badly rain affected, only 10 overs' play possible.

Cricket Ireland chief executive Warren Deutrom was delighted by yesterday's news.

He said: "Although opportunities to find space in the Future Tours Programme are rare against the world's leading teams, it is apparent that Cricket Australia and the ECB are committed to ensuring that the top Associates, like Scotland and Ireland, have a chance to test themselves against the best and to help us to improve.

"2015 promises to be a landmark year for Irish cricket with the World Cup, home ODIs against two of the world's top teams, and co-hosting the World Twenty20 Qualifiers.

"All these events represent a wonderful business opportunity for a potential sponsor as our highly successful seven year association with RSA draws to an end."

The World Twenty20 qualifying tournament moves from Dubai, which has hosted the last two editions, to Ireland and Scotland and will be played from July 9 to August 2, with 14 countries competing for six places in the finals in India in 2016.

All the joint host country's games will be played in Ireland and they will be hot favourites to reach their eighth successive global event.

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