Ireland set for Test cricket debut at home to Pakistan next May
Historic agreement reached between two countries at ICC meeting in Auckland
Pakistan batsman Sharjeel Khan in action against Ireland at Malahide in August 2016. The Pakistan Test side will provide the opposition in Ireland’s first Test match in Ireland next May. Photograph: Rowland White/Inpho/Presseye
Ireland’s first Test match will be on home soil against Pakistan in May, following an agreement between the two sides reached during the International Cricket Council meeting in Auckland this week.
Ireland and Afghanistan were given Test status in June when they became the 11th and 12th Full Members of the ICC and Cricket Ireland has since been looking for the right opponents for an historic first match.
“We are excited to welcome Pakistan to Ireland for our inaugural Test match next year,” chief executive Warren Deutrom said. “It has been our wish to make our Test debut in front of our own fans within 12 months of becoming a Test nation, and against a big team – so I’m delighted.”
Pakistan certainly fit the bill as a team who were top of the Test match rankings as recently as last year before slipping back after the retirement of captain Misbah-ul-Haq and senior batsman Younis Khan.
“There is a lot of work to do from now to ensure that it will be an occasion to remember but we, and I’m sure our players and fans, can’t wait to rise to it,” Deutrom added.
“We would like to thank the Pakistan Cricket Board most sincerely for agreeing to be our first opponent in Test cricket – the Pakistan team has been a regular visitor to our shores in recent years, and their agreement to be our opponent on this important occasion for Irish cricket is further evidence of their terrific support.”
Irish captain William Porterfield welcomed confirmation of the match saying: “It’s fantastic news for Irish cricket. It’s going to be a bit special and it’s always great to be a part of history.
“There’s a special affinity between ourselves and Pakistan going back to the 2007 World Cup and they’ve been regular tourists here over the past decade.
“Test cricket is the pinnacle of our sport and I know how much this game will mean to not only the players but all involved with Irish cricket. It’ll be another step on what has been an incredible journey for our sport in a relatively short passage of time.
“It’s sure to be an incredible and emotional experience for all involved. I know how much this will mean to all the players and just how much we all will forward to our dream of being Test cricketers realised. I’m certain there will be an incredible atmosphere from both sets of fans who will be keen to witness a piece of history.”
The exact date in May and Irish venue for the five-day Test has yet to be confirmed, but a final decision on both will be announced in due course.