Ireland must be given Test status immediately – Opinion

IRELAND’S cricket team must be elevated to Full I.C.C. membership (Test status) immediately.

In the 2007, 2011 and 2015 World Cups they’ve beaten the following Test playing nations: Pakistan, Bangladesh, England, West Indies and Zimbabwe (as well as tying with the latter). They have also won both of their matches against fellow associated members: Netherlands and U.A.E.

And it’s not just the names. It’s how they’ve won some of these matches too.

Ireland have chased 300+ runs to win on three occasions: their victories over England (target of 328 – a World Cup record run-chase) and the Dutch (307) came in 2011 while their win over the Windies (305) was at the recent World Cup. Only on four other occasions has 300 been successfully chased in the World Cup by other sides: Sri Lanka (313 against Zimbabwe in 1992 and 310 against England in 2015), England (301 against West Indies in 2007) and Bangladesh (319 against Scotland in 2015).

Winning record

It was back in the 2007 West Indies World Cup that Ireland exploded onto the international scene.

In their first World Cup match (and just their ninth O.D.I.) they took Zimbabwe’s last five wickets for 18 runs to force a tie before stunning 1992 World Champions Pakistan by chasing their Duckworth-Lewis adjusted target with 32 balls remaining. In the Super 8s Ireland also managed to beat Bangladesh (who had beaten India earlier in the tournament) by 74 runs with 52 balls to spare.

Four years later came Irish cricket’s finest hour when, chasing 328, losing their captain first ball and slipping to 111-5, they beat England by 3 wickets in Bangalore. The highest successful run-chase the World Cup has ever seen also saw its fastest century made by Kevin O’Brien, whose hundred was reached in just 50 balls.

Sadly another 300+ chase against the Dutch wasn’t enough to see Ireland into the knock-outs.

A place in the knock-out stage of the 2015 World Cup was tantalisingly close for the men in green. Thanks to their third 300+ chase in their opening game against double World Champions West Indies, a follow-up 2 wicket victory over a determined U.A.E. side and a fine display of nerve holding to see off Zimbabwe, another Test side, by just 5 runs, a showdown against Pakistan for the final last eight place was set up. Alas it was not to be. Pakistan won by 7 wickets.

Outside the World Cup, Ireland have chalked up another win over Bangladesh and Zimbabwe, though the latter was in self-imposed Test exile at the time. They’ve also tied with Pakistan.

But it’s this group of statistics that proves why Ireland should be playing Test matches.

Team

Played

Won

Lost

Tied

No Result

Win %

W+T %

W+T+NR %

Sri Lanka

5

1

4

0

0

20

20

20

Zimbabwe

20

2

18

0

0

10

10

10

Bangladesh

40

3

37

0

0

7.5

7.5

7.5

Ireland

96

44

44

3

5

45.83

48.96

54.17

Ireland vs. Test nations

45

7

34

2

2

15.56

20

24.44

It shows the record of the three countries (Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe and Bangladesh) who played full O.D.I. matches before they were granted Test status. It clearly shows that Ireland now have more victories over Test nations than these three nations did before their elevation to Test status combined. It should also be noted that two of Bangladesh’s three wins came against non-Test sides, Kenya and Scotland.

Ireland also have a winning record over every full or former full O.D.I. status associate member they’ve played: Scotland (P17 W12 L4 NR1), Netherlands (P10 W7 L1 T1 NR1), Kenya (P10 W7 L2 NR1), Canada (P8 W6 L2), Afghanistan (P4 W3 L1), Bermuda (P1 W1) and U.A.E. (P1 W1).

The I.C.C.’s recent decision to allow Ireland and Afghanistan a chance to qualify for the 2019 World Cup via the O.D.I. Championship (rankings), thus removing their need to play in the 2015-17 World Cricket League Championship, further proves that they’re a cut above the rest of all bar one of the other associates. As the rankings stand Ireland would have to play in the 2018 World Cup Qualifier in Bangladesh with: Bangladesh, Zimbabwe, Afghanistan and six of the following: Hong Kong, Kenya, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, Papua New Guinea, Scotland and U.A.E.

Ireland may still earn the right to play Test cricket against the lowest ranked Full member (currently Zimbabwe) if they win the 2015-17 Intercontinental Cup, a first-class four day competition which runs parallel to the World Cricket League Championship. The Intercontinental Cup winner will play four five day matches (two at home and two away) against the lowest-ranked Test side as of 31st December 2017 in the 2018 I.C.C. Test Challenge. But we don’t know yet if the Intercontinental Cup winner will receive Test status should they win this series. All we know is they’ll play one five day match against England at Lord’s in 2019 should they win.

The Irish have won the Intercontinental Cup four times and their record is: played 32, won 20, drawn 10, lost two. Their two defeats came at the hands of Scotland (by just 8 runs) in 2004 and Afghanistan (by 7 wickets in 2009-10).

Ireland are clearly ready for Test cricket, and the I.C.C. shouldn’t miss the boat like they did with Kenya, who for a time were the only country to posses full O.D.I. status but not Test status. Kenya reached the 2003 World Cup Semi-Finals but have since lost their full O.D.I. status and don’t even play ‘full’ T20 Internationals anymore. They’re currently part of the I.C.C.’s High Performance Programme with: Canada, Namibia and Uganda.

Kenya have played 156 O.D.I.s and won 42. Ireland have played 96 and won 44.

But don’t just take my word for it. Read what Jason Gillespie and Michael Holding have to say on the ‘Ireland Question’.

If Ireland are awarded Test status I’m certain it will not take them as many matches as it took some other nations to win their first Test.

Nation

Matches before first win

Australia

0

England

1

Pakistan

1

West Indies

5

Zimbabwe

10

South Africa

11

Sri Lanka

13

India

24

Bangladesh

34

New Zealand

42

But if Ireland are not awarded Test status in the immediate future and start to decline like Kenya did the I.C.C. will be sending a clear message out to all but 10 of its members. That message will simply be ‘there is no hope for you.’

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About Alex Crouch 92

I'm a lifelong Formula One fan who also enjoys classic rock/heavy metal music.
This entry was posted in Cricket, ICC, Opinion, Sport and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Ireland must be given Test status immediately – Opinion

  1. padfirst says:

    As much as I would love it to happen too, I think it’s a bit of a pipedream with the exclusive mantra the ICC is currently taking with Associate nations, and particularly a top nation like Ireland. They would be genuinely competitive if given Test status, and players like Eoin Morgan and Boyd Rankin went back to play for their home country.

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