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Ireland left out in the cold again as another Test match is postponed


Heading home: Paul Stirling’s season with Islamabad United has been cut short

Heading home: Paul Stirling’s season with Islamabad United has been cut short

�INPHO/Oisin Keniry

Heading home: Paul Stirling’s season with Islamabad United has been cut short

The wait goes on for Ireland's next Test match as it can be revealed the scheduled five-day game in Sri Lanka, rearranged for December, has been postponed for a second time.

It means that Ireland will go into a third year since their last Test match, against England in 2019, before they can return to the ultimate form of the game.

The Sri Lanka test was due to take place in February last year but was cancelled by the host's board at just two months' notice because the one-off match was not part of their television deal.

Now it has been postponed again because Sri Lanka have rearranged their two-Test tour to Bangladesh for this December and Ireland have been left without a Test match for a second successive year.

It certainly was not what either the players or, especially, the fans were expecting when Ireland were granted Full Member status back in June 2017, and the excitement of their inaugural Test against Pakistan at Malahide the following May is now a distant memory.

Since then, Ireland have played only two more Tests, against Afghanistan in Dehradun in February 2019 and the memorable occasion at Lord's five months later.

Now it looks as if it will be a wait of at least 33 months before they are back in red-ball action with an away Test against Zimbabwe the next scheduled match in April 2022, with Ireland also due to host New Zealand and Afghanistan that summer, as per the Future Tours Programme.

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However, the expense of staging a Test match has already ruled out the scheduled Test against Zimbabwe in August and there is no confirmation yet that anything will have changed by next summer.

Meanwhile, Paul Stirling is trying to get home after the Pakistan Super League was suspended following a further seven positive cases of Covid-19.

Stirling is not one of the new cases but the organisers took the decision to postpone the rest of the tournament and have released the overseas players.

Ireland's vice-captain played in only two of Islamabad United's four games - three of which were won - the last on Tuesday when he scored a 21-ball half-century.

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