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Dublin: 12 °C Tuesday 21 May, 2019
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Cricket Ireland down €75,000 as fans issued with full refund for washout

It was far from a dream start as the weather rained on Ireland’s parade in Malahide.

Ryan Bailey reports from Malahide 

EVEN ALLOWING FOR the sense of pride and achievement which surrounded the historic nature of this match, it was hard not to be somewhat deflated when — almost predictably — Irish cricket’s big day fell foul of some thoroughly Irish weather.

A view of wet conditions at Malahide Cricket Club The covers were in place all morning at Malahide. Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

The giddy excitement of expectant spectators, many of whom had travelled from afar, quickly made way for the dawning realisation that the vagaries of the weather at this time of year was to strip them of the chance to witness a piece of sporting history.

Any likelihood of play on the opening day of Ireland’s inaugural Test match against Pakistan was washed away with a nasty downpour shortly after lunch, before the two umpires officially abandoned proceedings at 3pm and confirmed the inevitable.

Whether it is any consolation or not, ticket-holders will get their money back on account of Cricket Ireland’s policy which entitles punters to a full refund if a ball isn’t bowled, but that will probably be of little comfort for those who came to be part of the occasion.

And it was particularly cruel, and ironic, that the final decision was made just as the persistent rain and gusting winds had made way for a sunny and calm afternoon, leaving many to ponder what might have been as they trudged away disappointed and drenched.

Alas, the damage had already been done.

The dry weather at least bodes well for the chances of a prompt start on Saturday morning, with the ground staff busily working to remove the covers and start the clean-up operation on Friday afternoon.

For Cricket Ireland, it was another lamentable stroke of bad luck as they were left to count the financial cost of a washout having committed €1 million to stage this five-day game.

Even allowing for insurance payouts, the organisation is set to lose €75,000 from today’s abandonment alone after 5,000 of the 6,300 tickets for the opening day had been pre-sold, while they will also take a hit from other matchday revenue streams such as food and drink.

“We unfortunately don’t have sufficient insurance cover to cover everything, but I think the only fair thing to do when it’s a full rain out is that everyone gets their money back,” Cricket Ireland CEO, Warren Deutrom, said.

“The shortfall between insurance and ticket sales is probably about €75,000, which isn’t good news.

Young fans endure the rain during a pitch inspection All fans are entitled to a refund after today's abandonment. Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

“Unfortunately in terms of the insurance market, it wasn’t in a position to support us the way we wished but the option is not to play Test cricket or international cricket and that isn’t an option.”

Deutrom, who admitted Cricket Ireland may review its refund policy moving forward, added that last summer’s abandoned ODI against West Indies in Belfast compromised their position with insurers for this game.

“Yeah, every time you have to pay out, your insurance premium goes up and it’s not just about pay outs but weather patterns and as we know that hasn’t been the best,” he explained.

Speaking to The42 last week, Deutrom said the staging of a Test match is a considerable financial risk for Cricket Ireland, but the hope was that the books would balance when India visit Malahide for two lucrative Twenty20 fixtures in June.

Even after an inexplicably discouraging day, Deutrom maintained that degree of optimism. The message was clear; this was a setback, but nothing Cricket Ireland haven’t encountered and overcome before.

“We tend not to look at matches on a single profit and loss basis. We look at it on a year-by-year and we know for the majority of the existing Test nations, Test cricket is a bit of a lost leader — England and Australia being the exemptions to the rule — but for the rest of them they make their money on white ball cricket.

“Obviously we’ve got two Twenty20 games against India and hopefully that will help us mop up any losses from this match should they be incurred.”

The washout means Ireland now has the unwelcome distinction of being the first nation to have the opening day of their maiden Test abandoned, and while the umpires could have held on to see if a handful of overs were possible later in the day, Deutrom agreed it was the right decision.

Warren Deutrom Cricket Ireland CEO Warren Deutrom. Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

“There was obviously a huge sense of excitement and anticipation about today and obviously a massive sense of pride,” he added.

“There was a part of me that was thinking as we were sort of getting to half two, three o’clock and the rain was hammering down, that you know what even if it suddenly cleared and the guys said ‘yeah let’s get out there for a number of overs at five o’clock’, it probably would have been inappropriate and an underwhelming way for us to start our bow in Test cricket.”

Cricket Ireland say only a handful of tickets for day two remain with the expectation that the surface water will have been cleared for an 11am start.

“Now that the rain has stopped, tomorrow morning is probably a more appropriate start,” Deutrom said.

“All I can say is of course it’s disappointing but I don’t want to go around with a massively long face, projecting misery because it isn’t that, we’re still hugely proud and there are still four days left in the match to go — and in the record book, who knows, it might say we took the match to the fifth day.”

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Rain puts Ireland’s historic Test debut on hold as opening day washed out

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Ryan Bailey

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