Ireland hope to edge closer to Test cricket at ICC board meeting in Dubai

Ireland hope for Test cricket green light from key ICC board meeting

Ireland will edge closer to Test status on Thursday if the International Cricket Council board accepts a proposal formulated in February.

Two months ago, the ICC's board agreed in principle to grant full-member status to Ireland and Afghanistan but this has to be signed off on Thursday.

The decision in Dubai would have to be ratified by the ICC's AGM in June.

If the verdicts go the way of the two associate nations, the Irish hope to play their first Test in 2018.

Cricket Ireland chief executive Warren Deutrom says a decision to grant Test status would be "transformational" for the sport in the country.

John Mooney celebrates after hitting the winning runs in Ireland's World Cup win over England in 2011
Ireland's big one-day scalps have included the World Cup win over England in 2011

Test cricket would be 'significant financial boost'

Deutrom has been reluctant to talk about the financial specifics of what Test admission would mean for Ireland but it is estimated current ICC funding of just over £1m per year could increase up to five fold.

"It would be very, very significant in financial and commercial terms," Deutrom told BBC Sport Northern Ireland.

"In terms of the distribution of funding from the ICC, it would outstrip our entire turnover at the moment.

"Also, we would have a predictable set of fixtures on a multi-year basis.

"That would finally allow us to go to broadcasters with a very, very decent commercial offering and we could potentially have significant deals with both domestic and international broadcasters.

"Having a broadcast presence would also give us a super platform for gaining more commercial partners."

Ireland announced Test status plan in 2012

Ireland first announced plans to gain Test status in 2012, a year after earning a famous victory over England at the 2011 World Cup.

They had already beaten Pakistan at the 2007 tournament and, in 2015, defeated West Indies and Zimbabwe before narrowly failing to qualify from the group stage.

In October, Ireland's Inter-Provincial competition became the first domestic tournament outside of a Test nation to be granted first-class status.

Ireland cricket fans will hope that the team's disappointing form over the past 18 months will not impact on Thursday's decision in Dubai.

The Irish failed to get out of their qualifying group at last year's World Twenty20 in India after suffering defeats by other associate nations Oman and the Netherlands.

Further drubbings by Pakistan, South Africa and Australia followed later in 2016 and the recent 3-2 one-day series loss against Afghanistan in India was rounded off by a humiliating innings defeat by the Afghans in an Intercontinental Cup match.

Ireland coach John Bracewell
John Bracewell's Ireland team were hammered by Afghanistan in their last game

Cricket Ireland concerned by recent performances

Ireland's recent struggles on the field has led to some speculation over the future of coach John Bracewell and Deutrom admits he has been concerned by the team's form in recent times.

"It would be disingenuous of me to say 'move along... there's nothing to see here'.

"As a human being let along as a chief executive, over the last 12 to 18 months the result haven't been what we wish them to be. There is no doubt about that whatsoever."

To that end, Cricket Ireland opted to set up a review into the team's performances following the series against Afghanistan in India.

That review is scheduled to be completed after next month's one-day games against England, Bangladesh and New Zealand.

"We're trying to see if there is anything deeper here? Is it the players? Is it our talent production systems? Is it our talent development systems? Is it the coaching staff? Is it the number of injuries? Is it the entire performance system? We are having to look at everything," added Deutrom.

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