The one-day international (ODI), to be held on Friday 3 May 2019, was initially announced in June 2018 as part of the release of the ICC Future Tours Programme (FTP), with the Board now confirming that Malahide will be the host venue (subject to finalisation of terms with the host club).
The allocation of the fixture was part of the Board’s broader consideration of venue allocation policies, with an overhaul of procedures now underway ahead of the first full year as part of the FTP, with further announcements in due course for the remainder of the 2019 programme.
Warren Deutrom, Chief Executive of Cricket Ireland, said:
“We are, of course, looking forward to our first Test match against England at Lord’s Cricket Ground in July 2019, but we are equally eagerly anticipating hosting England in an ODI here in Ireland ahead of the Test.”
“We expect there will be immense interest in the match, as it will be seen by England as a key part of their preparations ahead of the 2019 Cricket World Cup in England. We look forward to working with, and continuing to enjoy the generous support of, Malahide Cricket Club, Fingal County Council and other local stakeholders for what should be another great cricket event.”
“Planning is underway for this encounter and we would anticipate tickets going on sale before the end of 2018.”
“As it stands, in 2019 we will have four Full Member national men’s teams visiting our shores, playing in different formats. The importance of venue allocation for these fixtures is crucial in providing the best conditions we can for our national side, while trying to manage the usual wear-and-tear that pitches endure over a season for the inter-provincial sides and clubs that also use those grounds.”
“The Board considered this issue in detail and has endorsed the development of a new Match Allocation Policy for international and Inter-Provincial matches in Ireland. This move recognises the increased demand on our international-rated grounds given our entrance into the FTP.”
“We currently have just four international-rated grounds in Ireland – Malahide, Clontarf, Stormont and Bready. The challenge of using club grounds for international matches is that when it comes to access, infrastructure and pitch quality there are competing demands and expectations between users of those grounds.”
“As part of the discussions, the Board raised the matter of recent comment on the standard of pitches at Stormont. I said the day after we became a Full Member last year that our biggest deficit in infrastructure and human resource was in facilities, and it would take years to change. We have invested thousands in new ground covers, people and transportation of equipment / experienced ground-staff this year to offset the impact of poor weather, but we know being on a par with the older Test nations in the whole area of playing facility development, preparation and management is a much longer-term project.”
“Managing pitch conditions and facilities in general, and taking a strategic approach to where we host matches – taking into consideration pitches, home advantage, revenue generation, cost and geographical spread – will become ever more important with increased international matches over coming years. This is also why we are also exploring the construction of a new cricket stadium – not to take international matches away from existing venues, but rather to provide dedicated, durable cricket facilities and to spread the fixture load across our already busy grounds.”
Next year will be the first full year that Ireland is part of the FTP, but Deutrom sees the programme as an opportunity for Ireland to ensure its policies and facilities are fit-for-purpose.
“One of the operational frustrations of having been outside of the FTP was this very constraint on our ability to plan forward in terms of allocating venues. This had the knock-on impact for domestic fixture scheduling and short-to-medium term financial modelling. Now, with our entrance into the FTP, we are in a position to know our marquee fixtures for the foreseeable future, and allocate matches to venues accordingly. We see this providing benefits in relation to venue planning, building a case for venues to engage with funding authorities to seek infrastructure development funding, and enabling us to market/promote our sport with greater certainty,” said Mr Deutrom.
“The Board has recognised that our existing Match Allocation Policy was drawn up five years ago when the Irish cricket landscape was very different to now – in particular the quantity of major matches to allocate, our ICC status, the hosting of Test cricket, and developments in ICC venue standards.”
“The Board’s decision will enable Cricket Ireland to work closer with Provincial Unions and clubs to create a sustainable network of cricket venues across this island.”
The Board also endorsed plans for international teams and players over the winter period, including:
Relating to this last point, the Board unanimously acknowledged the generous support of the Irish Government, through Sport Ireland, in granting €40,000 in new funding to support the participation of the international women’s team at the ICC World T20 tournament in November.
Richard Holdsworth, Performance Director for Cricket Ireland, outlined how the funding would be spent:
“A portion of the money will be invested in recognising the commitment of our players in taking part in the tournament through paying loss of earnings and match fees. Many members of our squad balance full-time jobs or study with their cricket careers and sacrifice pay and leave at times to be able to participate.”
“The funding will also guarantee our ability to undertake a warm-weather training camp in La Manga in Spain in the lead-up to the tournament. This is crucial given that the tournament falls outside the Irish cricket season and during a period where we won’t be able to undertake much outdoor training here at home.”
“Given the high performance nature of the sport, the funding will further allow us to engage an additional coach, Fintan McAllister, and a sports psychologist, Anne Marie Kennedy who will travel to the tournament with the team.”
Building on this further, the Board endorsed the proposal to establish a working group to develop a bespoke Women’s Cricket Strategy that would be aligned to Cricket Ireland’s Strategic Plan. The Working Group would drive this project forward and provide regular Board updates on progress.
Global profile, governance and domestic cricket updates
Mr Deutrom also updated the Board on a number of strategic achievements and progress reports:
“The Board welcomed news that the viewing and spectator numbers for the international season will be at record levels. Over 30,000 spectators came to international men’s matches at Malahide, Bready and Stormont, while many millions of cricket fans around the world watched the broadcast of our Test and T20Is, and we livestreamed the men’s international series against Afghanistan and the women’s international between Ireland and Bangladesh as part of a double-header with the men’s 2nd T20I v India at Malahide.”
“While overseas broadcast will be an important component of our operations going forward, the support domestically from RTE, Sky and BBC Sport NI and all of our overseas broadcast partners in covering matches this season on various broadcast platforms has also had a significant role to play in our ambition to make cricket mainstream in Ireland.”
“The bounce in profile and awareness of the sport has also led to increases in social media following over the last six months, with rises recorded in Cricket Ireland’s Twitter (+26%), Instagram (+33%), LinkedIn (+32%) and Facebook (+3%) profiles.”
“Governance is also an important strategic part of our work in improving our sport, and the Board approved the formation of a new Governance Committee as part of Cricket Ireland’s journey towards compliance with the Republic of Ireland’s Governance Code. The Committee will be charged with undertaking a yearly review of Board roles, Board’s Terms of Reference, membership of the Board and its sub-committees, and Cricket Ireland’s adherence to the Governance code’s recommended practice.”
“The Board also received an update on the ongoing work between Cricket Ireland and the Provincial Unions in strengthening the financial and operational relationships between the entities to ensure a sustainable club / grassroots cricket landscape. Cricket Ireland has invested over €900,000 supporting club / grassroots cricket through the Provincial Unions in 2018, however further development of the structures, governance models and funding arrangements will be undertaken over coming months to further improve domestic cricket.”