Due to financial constraints, Ireland Cricket have tweaked their FTP (Future Tour Programme) 2020, which includes the cancellation of a five-match T20I series against Afghanistan and the conversion of the one-off Test vs Bangladesh into a T20I.
Warren Deutrom, Chief Executive of Cricket Ireland, has stated that financial challenges faced by the board have been the catalyst for such a decision, even as they aim to build towards becoming a competitive Test side in the long-term.
Ireland have played three Tests since being awarded the full member status in June 2017 and Deutrom spoke of the need to carefully chart the way forward for the longest format of cricket in the country, considering it demands a ‘significant investment’.
“We were proud to become world cricket’s 11th Test playing nation and have a long-term commitment to that format of the game. Both fans and players alike have enjoyed the spectacle of Ireland competing in the Test arena, however we have been very careful in our approach to Test cricket and understand that it is a long-term proposition to build up a competitive side in the long game, and will require significant investment in permanent infrastructure before we can make regular Test cricket financially sustainable,” said Deutrom in an official statement.
“We have additionally been very open about the financial and resource constraints that we operate within, and especially a number of financial headwinds that we have faced as we transition from an Associate Member to the operations required of a Full Member.”
“The first area of prioritisation for 2020, has been white-ball cricket over red ball.”
“Like all Irish cricket fans, we would love nothing more than to be competing on all three fronts – Tests, ODIs, and T20Is. Unfortunately, our financial constraints have led us to cut the home Test match next year.
“As the Test does not form part of the World Test Championship, the one-off match lacks context. For effectively a ‘friendly’, the expected costs for hosting the Test would be over €1 million, with little expectation of creating revenue streams to cover the costs of hosting.”
Ireland will now be hosting Bangladesh, New Zealand, Pakistan for limited-overs assignments before embarking on their tour to England.
“Those tough decisions also include having to prioritise some white-ball cricket over others,” Deutrom said.
“With Bangladesh and NZ coming over for important ODIs, it makes sense to extend their tours with complementary T20Is. Similarly, Pakistan is the No. 1 T20I team in the world and have proven popular visitors here over the years.”
“However, we have notified the Afghanistan Cricket Board that we shall not be in a position to host them for the five planned T20Is in 2020. We have been regular and frequent opponents of the Afghans every year for a long time now, and we shall be again in future. However, needs must at this juncture to ensure we are operating as a responsible governing body operating within our means.”
“The ODIs and remaining T20Is next year both have greater context and direct connections to two upcoming World Cups. The T20Is will form essential match play experience leading into the T20 World Cup in October, while the ODIs will become important with the start of the new World Cup Super League next year, which is the next 50-over World Cup’s qualification process. This will mean that in 2020, three of the Bangladesh ODIs and the three New Zealand ODIs next year directly count towards world cup qualification.”