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Stormont and Bready lead the way in NI's biggest summer of cricket

Stormont star: Gary Wilson shows class for Ireland
Stormont star: Gary Wilson shows class for Ireland

By Ian Callender

Stormont and Bready will host at least nine Ireland matches next year, in the biggest ever summer of international cricket in the province.

Beaten World Cup finalists New Zealand will play Ireland in a three-match one-day international series at Stormont at the end of June and beginning of July, immediately after Bready stages the three T20 internationals between the teams.

The Belfast venue will also host the three ODIs against Bangladesh which will start the international season in the middle of May. The other two confirmed games, previously announced, are the two T20 internationals against Pakistan, the World's No.1 T20 side, which will be played at Malahide.

With Clontarf, the other international-accredited venue, out of bounds for the next two summers because of renovation work - which was taken without consultation with Cricket Ireland - the Match Allocation Group had the task of catering for 15 matches on 12 pitches.

Venues for the four-match T20 series against Bangladesh, to be held after the ODI series between the teams, have still to be confirmed, but if Malahide cannot host them - they will need fresh pitches for the postponed Euro T20 Slam which is also due to take place next summer - then the T20 games against the Tigers could be played in England.

Having cancelled the proposed Test match against Bangladesh and a five-match T20 series against Afghanistan because of financial constraints, there was never any chance of culling the T20s against Bangladesh as well, with the T20 World Cup in Australia in October, so discussions remain ongoing.

Bangladesh, who will once again have a warm-up match against Ireland Wolves (at Comber on May 11), were in Dublin for a Tri-series with West Indies last May but this will be their first visit to Belfast since 2012 when they won a three-match T20 series at Stormont 3-0.

It will be the first time Stormont have hosted the New Zealanders and, indeed, they have played only two ODIs in Ireland, at Malahide in 2017.

Cricket Ireland also announced dates and venues for next season's interprovincials which, because of the financial problems, see the three-day championship fixtures halved in number, with each of the three teams hosting just one match.

The games will take place on successive weeks in August at Pembroke, Bready and Stormont.

Most attention next year will focus on the 20-over Trophy matches and, as well as the three-day festivals in Comber and Pembroke, a third is planned for late September in La Manga to give the Ireland players further match preparation before they head to Australia.

There will also be two Super 3 (women's interprovincial) games in Northern Ireland next year, at Lisburn on June 7 and Laurelvale on August 9.

INTERNATIONALS

May 14, 16, 19 - ODIs v Bangladesh (all at Stormont); June 19, 21, 23 - T20Is v New Zealand (all at Bready); June 27, 30, July 2 - ODIs v NZ (all at Stormont); July 12, 14 - T20Is v Pakistan (both Malahide)

INTERPROVINCIAL CUP

May 8 - Knights v Warriors (The Lawn)

May 10 - Knights v Lightning (The Lawn)

June 1 - Lightning v Warriors (The Hills)

June 4 - Lightning v Knights (Balrothery)

June 7 - Warriors v Knights (Eglinton)

June 9 - Warriors v Lightning (Eglinton)

July 6 - Lightning v Warriors (Rathmines)

July 26 - Knights v Lightning (Belmont)

July 29 - Warriors v Knights (Bready)

Interprovincial Trophy

June 12-14 (Nth Down); Aug 1-3 (Pembroke)

Interprovincial Championship

Aug 11-13 - Lightning v Knights (Sydney Parade); Aug 18-20 - Warriors v Lightning (Bready); Aug 25-27 - Knights v Warriors (Stormont)

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