Big ideas thrown around as Irish cricket crosses its Rubicon
Deutrom asks for patience so Ireland can transition into side capable of taking on elite
Cricket Ireland chief executive Warren Deutrom: seeks permanent cricket stadium in Malahide. Photograph: Bryan Keane/Inpho
Champagne bubbled. Goodwill fizzed around the room. Cricket unbuttoned its blazer, took a deep sigh. This was celebration time, the end of a journey into Test status, the beginning of another. The most recent made-man of international sport.
Irish cricket had cast aside its water wings, unscrewed its stabilisers and uncoupled the harness for the high wire act. There will be falls. There will be near drownings. But that’s membership of the club. And life is so much sweeter now.
There were big ideas thrown around and heavy hints dropped on the Government for an international ground, a more permanent move to Malahide and a €6 million spend for an ICC spec stadium and some fixed seating for 1,000 or 1,500 people.
“We’d be looking at purely having the international ground there,” said Ireland cricket chief executive Warren Deutrom. “Currently it’s extremely expensive for us to keep putting in temporary infrastructure only to have to pull it down again.
“It cost us about a million euro to put on the six-match tri-series in May. That’s not [all] to put up the infrastructure and take it down but it was a lot of the cost.”
It was all rightfully a bit giddy and hopeful and sunny barely 24 hours after the announcement with the flinty Dublin football manager Jim Gavin in the room, a man who understands how to arrive at positive outcomes.
Readiness for phase two, a girding of the loins and what to expect ahead quickly followed from the popping corks.
“History has said new entrants to the Test club struggle,” warned Deutrom. “It is not a question of waiting months to win or even years, it’s decades. New Zealand famously took 26 years to win their first Test. Bangladesh weren’t properly competitive for the first 10 to 15 years.
“It will take time to transition to full Test status but we will get there and we ask for patience.”
Gentle suppression of the the wilder hopes of immediately playing Test matches against Australia, India, Pakistan or England were counterbalanced by the expectation of more money flowing down. When that tap will open nobody quite knows. But it will. Ireland currently receives about $20 million (€17.86 million) over eight years. That figure is set to double.
The promise was top-tier nations in time but before that Bangladesh and Afghanistan and Zimbabwe. A sense of little steps first.
“Over the next six months we’re going to have to think about our priorities and one of those has to be when are we going to start Test cricket?” explained the CEO.
“Let’s assume it’s going to be 2018 or 2019 but it takes a long time for facilities, funding, planning permission . . . You’re looking at a three-year process. Facilities are such an urgent priority.”
Ireland, in time, will look to sides arriving to play England in the summer Tests and make a pitch for them to come to here rather than take on Kent or Middlesex. Ireland may also have to consider residency rules – currently four years – cricket as a career option and as has happened in rugby coming here to stake a claim on an Irish shirt.
“Undoubtedly I think they will [come],” said former Irish batsman Alan Lewis. “If there are players that want to fulfil that role and are prepared to build into the culture of what Irish cricket stands for, I would be welcoming.”
Ten years on a Rubicon is crossed. Ireland has come in from the margins.