Wednesday, 1 May 2013

The debate over Ireland’s inclusion as a Test cricketing nation has surfaced once more after the national side proved a worthy match with Pakistan in two ODIs last week.

Pakistan flew to Ireland for their ICC Champions Trophy warm-up games and although the tourists tied the first and won the second few cricket betting fans would argue the contests weren’t close - further suggesting the country should have Test status.

If Ireland are ever to make it as a Test nation they need contests like this to go ahead and prove themselves capable of matching the best in the world, something Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq says they did.

“We were really struggling,” he told BBC Sport. “If you look at their batting line-up that is good enough to do well anywhere.

“They may struggle a little bit with their bowling line-up when they go out of Ireland but still they are a really mature side.”

Indeed, Ireland have a genuine top order capable of handling first-class bowling attacks, with Paul Sterling and Ed Joyce both proving their mettle over the two ODIs. Granted, Pakistan are not the force they once were but should Ireland get Test status this is the sort of opponent they would initially face, and many in-play betting punters predict a five-day clash would be a real contest.

The sport has already seen the likes of Eoin Morgan and Ed Joyce (who then returned) jump the Irish Sea and represent England and this cannot continue to happen if cricket in Ireland is to develop.

The ICC must give Joyce and co. the opportunity to test themselves with the very best in the world, for it would not only help cricket in the country but also reinvigorate the Test game as a whole.

England v Ireland would be a great advert for the game and could pull huge spectator figures over the coming decades - something the ICC should seriously consider as the health of the game declines.

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