Venue for Afghanistan-Ireland Test switched to accommodate schools competition

Smaller Tolerance Oval in Abu Dhabi will now host the match as Ireland seek their first ever victory in Test cricket

The venue for Ireland’s upcoming Test match with Afghanistan has been changed in order to facilitate a schools sports competition in Abu Dhabi.

The multi-day match was originally scheduled to take place at the Zayed Cricket Stadium in the capital of the United Arab Emirates, with the Afghanistan Cricket Board unable to host matches in their own country.

However, with the Zayed Stadium now to be used for the Abu Dhabi Schools Sports Championship, Ireland’s first Test match since June of last year will be held at the Tolerance Oval, a secondary ground next door to the original venue.

The new venue was confirmed by the Abu Dhabi Cricket and Sports hub on Tuesday. The Test match gets under way at 6am on Wednesday, Irish time. The change was communicated to the teams involved last week.


“This was not our original plan but having been selected by the Abu Dhabi department of education and knowledge as the host facility for the prestigious Abu Dhabi schools sports championship taking place on 1-3 March 2024, we quickly sought the support of the Afghanistan Cricket Board [ACB] – the home nation for the series – towards this exciting late change,” said Matt Boucher, CEO of the Abu Dhabi cricket and sports hub.

“The support from ACB management has been unwavering. I would like to also thank everyone at Cricket Ireland and the Emirates Cricket Board (ECB) and International Cricket Council (ICC) for their flexibility towards the venue.”

The Tolerance Oval has a capacity of 12,000, significantly smaller than the Zayed Stadium which can hold up to 20,000 people.

According to the Abu Dhabi sports championships website, the event, which will clash with day four of the Test match, will see 1,000 teams and 25,000 individual athletes compete.

“It [Tolerance Oval] certainly is an unknown, and it’s unique that we are playing a Test match on the edge of a big Test venue, but getting the chance to play on new grounds is always both challenging and exciting at the same time,” said Ireland captain Andrew Balbirnie.

Ireland are seeking their first ever victory in Test cricket this week in their seventh outing in the game’s longest format.

  • See our new project Common Ground, Evolving Islands: Ireland & Britain
  • Sign up for push alerts and have the best news, analysis and comment delivered directly to your phone
  • Find The Irish Times on WhatsApp and stay up to date
  • Our In The News podcast is now published daily – Find the latest episode here
Nathan Johns

Nathan Johns

Nathan Johns is an Irish Times journalist