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2020 vision: Ireland reveals test cricket target

“This is not a dreamy aspiration but a real ambition,” Cricket Ireland chief executive Warren Deutrom explained at today’s strategic announcement.

Andrew Poynter, Paul Stirling and Andrew White in action during the Intercontinental Cup.
Andrew Poynter, Paul Stirling and Andrew White in action during the Intercontinental Cup.
Image: ©INPHO/Presseye/Rowland White

IRELAND HOPES TO join the world’s cricketing elite as a full test-playing nation by 2020, Cricket Ireland revealed in a new strategic development plan today.

The target of progressing to test-playing status within eight years will be supported by a number of major initiatives, including the decisions to extend coach Phil Simmons’ contract with the national side and to offer a record number of player contracts in 2012.

Simmons has agreed a new deal which will see him stay on at least until the end of 2013, when the group qualification stages for the next World Cup end, while 23 players have signed professional deals with Cricket Ireland for the coming year.

At present, only ten countries currently have “test-playing” status, which is controlled and limited by the International Cricket Council.

Irish cricket bosses have made no secret of their desire to join the test-playing ranks, a claim which was boosted by the country’s performance at last year’s World Cup, although they face competition from both Kenya and Afghanistan to be the next line for promotion.

Speaking at this morning’s launch, Cricket Ireland chief executive Warren Deutrom defended the goal as ambitious but achievable. “We have set ourselves a very clear long-term ambition – to become a full Test Nation by 2020, nothing less,” Deutrom explained.

This is not a dreamy aspiration but a real ambition founded on the playing talent being developed on this island, the growing passion and profile of the game here, a sustained and proven track record of achievement on and off the field, and a clear roadmap set out by us for how to get there.

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Targets

Among the interim goals which Cricket Ireland hopes to achieve by 2015 is to reach eighth place in the world rankings, setting out a very specific challenge for Simmons and his players.

“I have enjoyed every minute of my involvement with the Irish set up since I came on board in 2007,” Simmons said today. “We have achieved great things so far but there is far more to come.”

A key part of our success to date has been the move to professionalism. With so many players on full or part time contracts we now have a structure supporting the Senior squad as well as our succession planning to make sure we can maintain our competitiveness on the International stage.

Other targets in the 2015 strategic plan include: increasing the number of participants in the game to 50,000; establish a domestic first-class cricket structure; and reinforcing cricket as the fourth major team sport in Ireland.

Cricket Ireland announced today that Sky Sports has agreed to broadcast live ball-by-ball coverage of Ireland’s challenge match against Australia, which takes place in Belfast on 23 June. RSA Insurance, the title sponsor of that match and Cricket Ireland’s main commercial partner, have also committed to extending their support.

“A formal announcement of this and other commercial deals will be made in the coming weeks,” Deutrom said today.

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Niall Kelly

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