Irish cricket’s chief executive says the men’s team’s encouraging Test debut in the defeat by Pakistan can be a step on the way to the game becoming one of the country’s “major sports”.
Ireland had the visitors worried on the last day of the Malahide Test before Pakistan earned a five-wicket win.
“Test cricket wasn’t the end of the journey, it’s the beginning,” said Cricket Ireland chief Warren Deutrom.
Ireland’s second T20 game against India in June is close to a 8,000 sell-out.
Deutrom says the ticket sales for the two T20 games against the cricket superpower are proof that the game is making its mark despite the dominance of gaelic games, rugby and football on the Irish sporting landscape.
O’Brien heroics can inspire Irish youngsters
And Deutrom is hoping that Ireland’s creditable display on their Test debut, highlighted by Kevin O’Brien’s superb 118 in the second innings, will help to fill the Malahide ground in the two contests against India which take place on 27 and 29 June.
“We’re not going to suddenly be the biggest sport overnight but if I look back where we were 10 years ago to where we are now, and trace the potential for us over the next five, 10 years, there’s no reason why we shouldn’t be a major sport in Ireland,” he insisted.
“We’ve probably done this the wrong way around. Most teams, they get very good at what they do domestically then they make a big noise globally.
“We’ve made a big noise globally and are using that as a means of driving popularity and visibility of the sport back here in Ireland.”
‘Structures in place to develop new talent’
With seven of the side which started against Pakistan aged over 30, Irish cricket will have to quickly develop young talent to maintain the game’s progress in the country but Deutrom believes the necessary structures are in place.
“We’re now into the sixth season of our inter-provincial competition,” said Deutrom.
“It was a risk because we could set it up and then we weren’t going to get any funding to make it sustainable. (Thankfully) Hanley Energy have come in to make it sustainable.
“We set up an academy at the same time as well, in 2013. Are we doing the right things? Yes, I believe we are.
“Now that we’re on the FTP (Future Tours Programme) we’re going to have the opportunity to have more reciprocal arrangements with the major countries to make sure we give the next tier of players opportunities.”
Deutrom plans to announce details of future Ireland fixtures in the coming weeks and is also hoping that funding support could enable building work to begin next year at the proposed new cricket venue at the National Sports Campus in Dublin.
Cricket Ireland’s plan is that the country will play 60 home games over the next five years which could include around a dozen Tests.