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Light at the end of the tunnel as Ireland's cricketers to make long-awaited return to Test arena next December



Kevin O’Brien scored Ireland’s first Test century

Kevin O’Brien scored Ireland’s first Test century

©INPHO/Oisin Keniry

Kevin O’Brien scored Ireland’s first Test century

Ireland's long wait to play their next Test match is set to end next December.

Sri Lanka have pencilled in the rescheduled five-day match, originally due to take place in February this year, for December 2021.

By then, Ireland will have been a Full Member - eligible to play Test cricket - for four and a half years, but so far they have played only three Test matches.

The inaugural game was against Pakistan in May 2018, when Kevin O'Brien scored a century in the second innings and Ireland won on the final afternoon by five wickets.

In March 2019, Afghanistan beat Ireland by seven wickets in Dehradun and the last time Ireland played red-ball cricket was at Lord's in July last year when Tim Murtagh famously took five wickets in the first session as England were bowled out for 85, only for Ireland to be dismissed for 38 in perfect bowling conditions on the third morning.

Ireland were due to play their fourth Test match in Galle in February but Sri Lanka postponed the match because it was not part of their existing broadcast contract.

The other three Tests planned for this year, away to Afghanistan and Zimbabwe and at home to Bangladesh, were all cancelled because of a lack of funding.

But, after a break of 29 months, Ireland should finally return to the Test arena as one of seven countries that Sri Lanka will be hosting in 2021.

The Ireland squad are currently locked in their hotel rooms - today is their third and final day of self-isolation - in Abu Dhabi before they begin preparing for the first of four one-day internationals against UAE, with the three vital World Cup Super League games against Afghanistan to follow.

Ireland's next assignment will be another rearranged tour, this time to Zimbabwe for three ODIs and three T20s in April.

The home international summer includes scheduled white-ball series against South Africa and Zimbabwe plus the rearranged two-match T20 series against Pakistan.

Meanwhile, India wrapped up the second Test against Australia in Melbourne with a day and a half to spare to level the four-match series at 1-1.

They won by eight wickets after bowling out the home side in their second innings for 200.

Belfast Telegraph