€6 million stadium at the centre of Ireland's exciting Test plans

Cricket Ireland will need assistance from the government as they look to improve facilities at Malahide.

AS WARREN DEUTROM returns to his desk at Cricket Ireland’s headquarters this week, he’ll do so facing more dilemmas than solutions, more questions than answers and an ever-lengthening shopping list.

Warren Deutrom Cricket Ireland CEO Warren Deutrom. Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

The excitement and giddiness which surrounded Thursday’s elevation to Test cricket certainly won’t have faded, but Deutrom and his staff know the hard work really does only start now.

With a two-fold increase in funding (from €2.7 million annually to a reported figure of over €5 million) from the International Cricket Council set to flow into Cricket Ireland’s accounts, the organisation now has a semblance of financial muscle to invest much-needed resources as the transition into being a full member nation begins.

Among the areas Deutrom needs to address as a matter of urgency is an under-performing men’s senior team, an under-pressure head coach and an under-funded and under-resourced development structure which also includes a lack of world class playing and training facilities.

“Over the next six months we have to think about the transition to full membership,” Deutrom says.

“We’re going to have to think about our priorities and one of those has to be when are we going to start playing Test cricket?

“Let’s assume it’s going to be 2018 or 2019 but it takes a long time for facilities, funding, planning permission and then the bedding in of the pitch to happen. You’re looking at a three-year process so facilities are such an urgent priority.”

It remains to be seen when the development of a new €600,000 outdoor training complex in Abbotstown will be complete and available for use, but already attention has switched to securing the funding for a new national cricket stadium.

A general view from Malahide Cricket Ground Malahide was transformed into a 10,000 seater venue for the visit of England in 2013 but Cricket Ireland had to take a huge financial risk. Source: Rowland White/Presseye

At the moment, the facilities at Malahide aren’t up to international standard with temporary infrastructure, including portacabin changing rooms, installed for every match.

It cost Cricket Ireland €1 million to host last month’s tri-series tournament involving New Zealand and Bangladesh and Deutrom has identified the development of a suitable home venue as of huge importance.

With the new Minister of State for Tourism and Sport Brendan Griffin in attendance at Friday’s celebratory event, Deutrom didn’t miss a trick by strongly suggesting that Cricket Ireland now need the support of the government for this project to go ahead.

Any plans to upgrade Malahide into an international-standard venue would include the construction of a new pavillion with television and media facilities, as well as permanent seating for 1,500 spectators, at a cost of €6 million with Cricket Ireland in a position to half fund it.

“Currently it’s extremely expensive for us to keep putting in temporary infrastructure only to have to pull it down again,” the Cricket Ireland CEO says of the current situation.

“It is important for us to put the money we’re making back into the sport and not spending it on putting up a temporary structure each time we play at home.

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“We want a new venue to be scaleable so it looks full if there’s 1,000 people at a game and then we can add more seats to it if the demand is there.”

A general view of Malahide Cricket Club Malahide Cricket Ground. Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

With the cricket club in Malahide located inside the Castle grounds and owned by Fingal County Council, there are certainly many hurdles to overcome but Cricket Ireland see it is an ideal location with the setting very much akin to that of the grassy-bank style venues used in New Zealand.

While Deutrom and Cricket Ireland will begin to draw up a shopping list on the back of last week’s announcement, there is still uncertainty over when that extra funding will come through and be available for spending.

“I don’t know if it will be 1 January or 1 July 2018,” he added.

“There’s part of me that’s thinking great bring on all the cash and we can start throwing it around to all these various things and then there’s another part of me thinking you know what it may not be such a bad thing if it doesn’t flow until January 2018 because it gives us time to work out how we could marshal our resources best rather than ticking off a shopping list which would be inappropriate.”

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Ryan Bailey

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