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Irish close in on Test status after first class honours

By Ian cCallender

Ireland took another huge step towards playing Test cricket yesterday when the International Cricket Council (ICC) awarded the Hanley Energy inter-provincial championship first class status from next summer.

Confirming Cricket Ireland's application, ICC chief executive David Richardson said the three-day competition "is well structured and provides a clear pathway for players from under-age through to inter-provincial to the national team.

"The Championship is professionally run, played mainly in international standard venues."

Matches in the Twenty20 Trophy and 50 Overs Cup will also be elevated to List A status.

It is the first time first class status has been awarded to a domestic competition outside of a Test-playing country.

Cricket Ireland CEO Warren Deutrom, who was in South Africa when the decision was announced, outlined the importance of the decision.

"Bestowing first class status places these achievements in the game's official records and allows players to start accumulating career statistics, and puts them in the shop-window for opportunities overseas," said Deutrom.

"Playing first class domestic cricket is a significant milestone on our long-stated journey to become a Test nation and is what the Full Members (Test nations) do. If we want to be considered among the front rank of nations, then so must we."

A decision on Ireland being fast tracked to Test status was deferred to the next ICC board meeting in February but after this momentous decision, it looks ever more likely.

Belfast Telegraph


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