Two new teams could be confirmed as Test nations later this summer
Ireland could become a Test nation within two months.
Those were the cautious words of Cricket Ireland CEO Warren Deutrom on Thursday afternoon in Dublin. Following a meeting of the International Cricket Council, in the past few days, the path to Test status could be made easier for Ireland and Afghanistan in the coming weeks.
"We could be a full member on June 22nd, but there are some hoops to jump through. I dont want to convey the impression that we are respecting the process that needs to go through. We are not taking any decision for granted."
"Currently what's proposed is that ten teams will become 12, but only nine will be involved in a regular league system. The discussion is that Zimbabwe wont be part of the league, and will play Test matches against Ireland and Afghanistan is we are to become Test countries."
Cricket Ireland CEO Warren Deutrom. Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Donall Farmer
With the progress of the women's international team, along with the creation academies and a domestic provincial competition, Deutrom added that they are all part of the process to gaining full membership of the ICC.
Ireland will host a number of One Day Internationals this year in Malahide, Clontarf and Stormont. Deutrom confirmed that there is not a different standard of ground needed to host the five-day format.
"Once you're fit to play international cricket, you can play international cricket at all of those grounds. It would be up to Cricket Ireland to determine if we wanted to put Test matches in various places."
Deutrom cited the New Zealand method of playing Test matches in grounds with small capacities as one Cricket Ireland may follow.
"We are in a fortunate position that we dont have to ask the Government to invest in massive stadiums... Places like Malahide can attract scores of people for an Intercontinental Cup, but can see 10,000 in attendance for a game against England. For us that's the type of strength we have with venues."
While Zimbabwe and Afghanistan could be paired with Ireland on a more regular basis if Test status is achieved, there is still the opportunity to play bigger teams.
"There's a natural opportunity when teams travel to England, to play us on a frequent basis. When those teams are warming up against English counties in four-day games, what we would be suggesting is, it might make more sense to play Ireland, in Ireland."
Ireland travel to England next month to play in two One Day Internationals in Bristol and Lord's. It will be the first time Ireland have played England in the historic home of cricket.
Deutrom added that the England and Wales Cricket Board have been one of Cricket Ireland's strongest allies in improving the stature of international cricket in the country.
"Our games last year against Sri Lanka and Pakistan were specifically created in the gap that the touring teams would have otherwise played against English county competition."
With games to come in the coming weeks against England, Bangledesh and New Zealand, it could be what happens away from the field that makes history for Ireland's cricketers.