Ireland may have missed out on qualifying for the upcoming Cricket World Cup, but 2019 is still shaping up to be a hugely significant year for Irish cricket.
The venues have been finalised this week for a tri series in Dublin in May, featuring Ireland, Bangladesh and West Indies. While the matches at Clontarf and Malahide will provide their visitors with a great chance to acclimatise ahead of the World Cup, Ireland can build off the back of their encouraging 2-2 ODI series draw with Afghanistan in India this month.
Each side will play four games each leading up to the final, and the tournament will give the home side a chance to cause an upset against a West Indies side that is likely to be missing several key players, who may still be away on IPL duty.
Bangladesh could find early season northern hemisphere conditions somewhat alien, and so the series gives Ireland a realistic chance of success to get their summer off to a flying start.
William Porterfield is likely to lead Ireland into the Lord’s test
Before that England visit at the start of May for a one off ODI at Malahide, and following the tri series Afghanistan visit for two ODIs in Belfast.
After a hectic May Ireland are not back in action until July, when they host Zimbabwe for three ODIs and three T20s, all of which will take place in Northern Ireland, at Bready and Belfast.
Undoubtedly the highlight of the year however will be Ireland’s first test match against England, at Lord’s in July. The four-day contest will serve as a suitable warm-up for England ahead of the Ashes, but will also be a massive occasion for all lovers of the sport in Ireland.
Ireland will play a test match at Lord’s in July, a hugely significant occasion for Irish cricket
How far Irish cricket has come, since they upset Pakistan at Sabina Park on St. Patrick’s Day in the 2007 World Cup, is remarkable, although their rise to the ICC’s top table and Full Member status has been slightly overshadowed by Afghanistan’s incredible meteoric rise from Division 5 of the World Cricket League in 2008.
From an initial team of refugees that learnt cricket in Pakistan fifteen years ago, Afghanistan have risen through the ranks and are also now a test nation, that gained their first test match victory this week, defeating their friendly rivals the Irish by 7 wickets in what was the second test match played by both teams, in Dehradun, northern India.
Tickets for the Lord’s test are already selling quickly, and hopefully Ireland will give a good account of themselves at ‘the home of cricket’.
Dutch and Irish players will have a great chance to show their skills in the new ‘Euro T20 Slam’ league, beginning in August
In August and September the inaugural ‘Euro T20 Slam’ competition will take place. The competition will involve six Twenty 20 sides, with two sides each from Ireland (whose sides will be based in Dublin and Belfast), Netherlands and Scotland, with each squad able to sign up to seven overseas players to go alongside nine homegrown cricketers.
A ten year agreement has been signed and the tournament could go a long way to widening cricket’s appeal in all three countries, while also exposing their players to a higher standard of Twenty20 cricket.
Finally in October the World T20 qualifiers take place in the UAE, with Ireland looking to book a place at next year’s World T20 in Australia.
All in all 2019 looks set to be another busy, and potentially momentous, year for Irish Cricket.
Featured image: Wikicommons.