Thursday, 26 January 2012
Ireland's vision for Test cricket.
Cricket Ireland have always shown to be ambitious with their approach to the game. So with the announcement today about their plans for the future which includes their goal of gaining test status by 2020. Not many were surprised about this announcement, there is numerous points involved in the article which was released.
The first points was to increase the participants of the game in Ireland to 50,000 players. While also aiming to be 8th in the World rankings. Also establishing a first-class cricket system.
Also in the piece was the big news that Ireland Coach Phil Simmons has agreed to extend his contract for a further two years, which will see him at the helm till the World Cup group stage qualification has finished, at the end of 2013.
While Ireland has always had the burden of potentially losing their quality players to their neighbours England, they have now introduced a further 23 contracts to players for 2012 a record number which was not seen before. This includes 12 first-choice senior squad players receiving category A and B contracts, while a further 11 players will receive category C contracts.
The full list of player contract awards is:
Category A: Alex Cusack, Trent Johnston, John Mooney, Kevin O'Brien.
Category B: William Porterfield, George Dockrell, Ed Joyce, Niall O'Brien, Boyd Rankin, Paul Stirling, Andrew White, Gary Wilson.
Category C: Andrew Balbirnie, Peter Connell, Tom Fisher, Shane Getkate, Nigel Jones, Rory McCann, Andrew Poynter, James Shannon, Max Sorensen, Stuart Thompson, Albert van der Merwe.
"A key part of our success to date has been the move to professionalism," Simmons said. "With so many players on full or part-time contracts we now have a structure supporting the senior squad to make sure we can maintain our competitiveness on the international stage."
While Cricket Ireland has a strong squad of players, it's also needed to find the next batch of players through youth developments, and introuduce a series of initiatives designed to strengthen the game on the Island, which would help achieve the target of 50,000 players by 2015.
Some of the initiatives mentioned include:
The 'Get into Cricket scheme' - which is a major new programme targeting schools and clubs, to encourage 6 to 12 years olds to take up the game for the first time.
The National Cup - a new domestic National club competition for clubs not already competing in the Bob Kerr Irish Senior Cup. Which gives 32 new clubs the chance to compete for an All Ireland Title and the opportunity to play outside their local area.
The 'Better Clubs Initiative' - a programme which would help support local clubs across the country to improve their facilities. Which is a volunteer initiative aimed at encouraging local cricket supporters, their friends and families to undertake work to improve their local clubs.
The Cricket Ireland National Awards - This will be an annual event starting in 2012, whichw ill recognize players, coaches, volunteers, groundesmen, officials, and clubs for the contribution they make to the game in Ireland.
The establishment of Regional Academies to develop and foster young talent from the ages of 15-19 and ensure a pipeline of players for our International teams.
The re-launch of the Inter-Pro Series as a pre-cursor to setting up a first class domestic infrastructure in Ireland.
While this is very good, it's also important to get more games on the tv and after the success of Sky Sports coverage of the recent ODI between Ireland and England in Dublin. Sky have now announced that Sky Sports will cover the RSA Challenge versus Australia on Saturday 23rd of June in Belfast.
It's still vital for Ireland to gain more and more matches against top level competition, so it can continue to improve and grow as a cricketing nation. With the news of Sky Sports and their coverage of the ODI against Australia, it will bring the game of cricket to a far bigger cricketing audience than could have been previously dreamt of, which can only help Ireland in it's plans to grow.
Cricket Ireland has also announced that it has reached agreement on a series of new commerical funding deals that will underpin all of the programmes mentioned in the article.
While Ireland remains an associate nation trying to put a foot in the door of test cricket. It's the leading associate cricket playing nation, a position they have held for many years now. One thing is clear with this statement is that Warren Deutrom the Chief Executive, and the rest of the people working behind the scenes do indeed mean business and settling for second best is not good enough, these are ambitious plans put forward and I firmly believe the targets will be met.