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Ireland to host Oz before 2019 Ashes


By Ian Callender

Ireland may have received Test match status but their hopes for a date at Lord's may have to wait quite a while longer. The consolation will be a glamour home five-day game against Australia in 2019.

Those are the headlines from a draft Future Tours Programme (FTP) leaked by India, which gives the Test and one-day international match schedule for the 12 Full Members for 2019-23. Ireland are set to play 16 Tests and 42 ODIs in the four-year cycle plus 44 Twenty20 internationals.

Australia, last here in 2015 for an ODI at Stormont, will be touring England in 2019 for one of the two remaining five-Test series - India v England is the other - and are pencilled in to play Ireland before the first Ashes Test, which is set to be the highlight of the summer after next, even if Ireland qualify for the World Cup finals, which will precede the Test action.

As expected, more than half of Ireland's Tests will be against fellow newcomers Afghanistan (5) and Zimbabwe (4), the other side outside the nine-team Test Championship. At least four of those Tests are expected to be at home - although no venues have been announced.

Ireland are due to play a one-off Test in Sri Lanka in 2020 and in England the following year, but that game, despite a crowd of 22,000 attending this year's ODI at Lord's, I understand is not scheduled to take place at the Home of Cricket.

According to the leaked schedule, Ireland will have home Tests against both sides touring England in 2022, New Zealand and South Africa, and the other two Ireland Tests during the period will be against Bangladesh.

The new 13-team ODI League starts in 2020 and Ireland are down to play home series against New Zealand and Bangladesh, followed that winter with games against Afghanistan.

The Irish side are then due to travel to England for a three-match series in 2021, followed by home series against South Africa and Zimbabwe. The West Indies will host Ireland in early 2022 with Ireland then going to the Netherlands that summer. There are no matches listed for Ireland in the 2022-23 winter which ends the projected FTP.

Cricket Ireland have refused to confirm or deny the fixture list, but they did say that the leaked schedule has since been updated so while many of the series will be played, others are incorrect. The final proposed FTP will be ratified at the Chief Executives' Meeting in February before receiving final approval at the ICC Annual Conference next June.

Ireland are free to organise their own Tests on a bi-lateral basis for the next 18 months but so far the only one arranged is their inaugural Test against Pakistan at Malahide on May 11-15 next year.

CI did confirm yesterday that Andrew White is the new chairman of Ireland selectors.

Currently Ireland's most capped international, having made 232 appearances from 2000-14, White (37) takes over as Instonians captain next year but may be unavailable when internationals clash with club fixtures.

For the first time it is a paid, part-time role which will also see White travelling on selected tours.

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