Shortly after their limited-overs series in the Caribbean and involvement in March’s World Twenty20 in Bangladesh, Ireland’s jam-packed itinerary will extend into May when they play host to Sri Lanka for two One-Day Internationals.
Angelo Mathews' side, who are currently top of the ICC Twenty20 rankings, will begin their tour of the British Isles with back-to-back fixtures in Dublin on the 6th and 8th May before travelling to England.
The extended series will provide the hosts with another opportunity to test their credentials against a Full Member having long outgrown their Associate status.
Phil Simmons' side completed a clean sweep of trophies in 2013 and their quest to join the upper echelons of the sport is becoming an increasingly difficult one for the ICC to ignore.
The announcement is a further boost to Cricket Ireland officials as they look to escalate their case for greater recognition amid the sport’s growing popularity and team’s unprecedented success.
"It's great news for both the team and supporters," Simmons said.
"Ireland need as many matches as possible against Full Member sides. It’s how we measure ourselves now in terms of our cricketing progress. We’ll be gearing our preparation towards the 2015 World Cup, and this series is ideal.
"It’s a fantastic opportunity for our squad to face players of the calibre of Kumar Sangakkara, Angelo Mathews, Tillakaratne Dilshan and of course Lasith Malinga.
"They’re going to be tough opposition but Irish conditions in May will be to our advantage," the former West Indian all-rounder added.
Depending on their progress in the World Twenty20, Ireland’s fixture count for the first half of the calendar year could rise above the 20 mark with their participation in the Caribbean’s domestic competition preceding three games against the West Indies in February.
Last year, Ireland squandered healthy positions against Pakistan and England in Dublin before succumbing to defeat in both and have yet to taste victory against a better-ranked side in the Irish capital.
"2013 couldn’t have gone much better in terms of the fact that we won three trophies and continued our domination against our fellow Associates," Simmons explained.
"We did however miss opportunities to claim victories against both Pakistan and England when in strong positions. We’ll be looking to take our cricket to the next level in 2014 by winning from these type of situations, pressing home our advantage when we’re on top."
Although the visit of England in September of last year marked the opening of the new international venue in Malahide, a spokesperson for CI confirmed that the 10,000 seater venue wasn’t considered for the visit of Sri Lanka because of financial reasons.
It’s understood that a near sell-out crowd would be required to break-even given the sizable infrastructural work necessary.
"We are most grateful to Sri Lanka Cricket for giving us this opportunity. It is clear to all in the game that our performances against the Full Members are becoming increasingly competitive in all formats, and this is another opportunity for us to convert strong match positions into ranking points," Warren Deutrom, CEO of Cricket Ireland, added.
"Along with our series in the Caribbean and the World T20 this is a strong start to the year and, win or lose, another chance to demonstrate that we belong at this level."
Furthermore, Ireland’s busy year will culminate in three one-day fixtures against a touring Sri Lankan A side in late August as part of a reciprocal agreement which sees Ireland A visit Colombo later this month.
© Cricket World 2014