Having actually fought for it, Ireland seem to comprehend that Test cricket is worth fighting for

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This Ireland v Pakistan Test is a big deal and Ireland are treating it as a big deal. If feels the way international matches are supposed to feel.

Ed Joyce said that Test cricket “wasn’t even a pipedream” for Ireland’s men’s team until relatively recently, which really puts things in perspective. (And this is an All-Ireland team as well, lest we forget – which is not insignificant in itself.)

“Test cricket is the best,” said Warren Deutrom, the chief executive of Cricket Ireland, speaking to the BBC earlier this week. “It’s the pinnacle format and still has the perception of the romance of the game – if we were not playing it we would not be playing the best format.”

Deutrom speaks of cricket being the pinnacle in a way that is manifestly less hollow than when most other cricket administrators use that word.

Here are two other things he said, which betray a rare fundamental understanding of things.

Speaking about the fact that Ireland will only play a few Tests a year, he said: “We’ve an opportunity to create a brand around its sheer rarity.”

That idea, that scarcity can increase the value of something, is so simple and so important, yet it is utterly alien to cricket.

And amid all the hoo-ha and dumb ideas and market research, Deutrom also comprehends that something rare and with status can draw attention even in this age of supposedly shortened attention spans. Speaking about why Ireland want to play Tests, he said: “It’s also a means to an end; namely to popularise cricket and try to make it a mainstream sport in Ireland.”

On top of all the sense he speaks, the bloke clearly also absolutely loves cricket. Warren Deutrom is our cricket executive hero. We are going to get a grey suit with DEUTROM across the shoulders.

Now onto the match. Could Ireland win? Why not? We can think of two pretty major reasons why they might triumph.

(1) They’re playing at home and the weather forecast is pretty Irish. These guys know a hell of a lot more about playing in Ireland than anyone else does.

(2) Look at the Ireland team. Most of these guys will be more familiar to you than the England team. They have been playing together for years, they’re well-drilled and they have experience of giving a good account of themselves in big one-off matches.

That second point is so important. People often think that an international match is an international match, but do you honestly equate a dead rubber in a five-match bilateral series with a knock-out game in a World Cup or in World Cup qualifying?

Even if they recently failed to make it to the 2019 tournament, big matches in which the players absolutely have to perform are Ireland’s soda bread and butter. As they have fought their way to Test status, every game has mattered in a way that fatter, more complacent cricket nations cannot comprehend.

That fight also seems to have given Ireland a sense that Test status is actually something worth fighting for. Quite honestly, that is really very uplifting to witness.


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    1. I am also excited – I genuinely considered travelling to Ireland for it.

      It may be raining, but it’s Test-delaying rain…

  1. Partly maybe because I am In an half Irish household, but there is a real sense of anticipation here and people we know back in Ireland.

  2. I’ve been waiting a long time for this. Figures it rains.

    I guess it’s good I got those two hours of sleep instead of staying up straight through for the 3:00AM (local) start time.

  3. 3) They are playing Pakistan. For a myriad of reasons, I can’t think of a team I would rather play in my countries first Test match.

    I don’t think it has ever been more obvious that there really should be more Test teams. Even with it pissing down, this is great

  4. It’d be nice to think we have here an example of a sports administrator who views playing the game at a high(est) level to be an end in itself, but scroll down towards the bottom of the BBC article (https://www.bbc.com/sport/cricket/44031876) and you’ll see the predictable reference to it being “a means to an end; namely to popularise cricket and try to make it a mainstream sport in Ireland.” Sorry, cricket will never be either in Ireland, and you have to wonder how many times they’ll be willing to stump up a million euro before wondering whether that money could be better spent elsewhere. Your first game can only have novelty value once.

    1. It can certainly become MORE popular and even if the first Test has novelty value, the fact that Tests will always be very rare means they’ll retain an element of that.

      There’s at least ten years of “first home Test against X, Y and Z”.

  5. Prospects of play at Malahide Saturday, Sunday, Monday – good.

    Might have to be Middlesex on the radio while watching Ireland on the TV cognitive dissonance.

    Max cog dis when watching Murtagh bowling for Ireland while Middlesex are bowling at Lord’s.

    It’s gonna be a great weekend.

      1. On my Uni industrial placement year I worked with someone whose surname was Bowker. I think she was the only member of the team with no interest in cricket, however.

        Another one of those same time tomorrow.

  6. Amazing West Indian name alert klaxon. Javon Scantlebury-Searles.

    Sounds like a character out of a Jane Austen novel.

    1. I have a thing about double-barrelled names. I scored an unusual hat-trick at Lord’s last month when I did battle against three different double-barrelled named opponents in a row. Mentioned “en passant” in this report:


      What I didn’t mention in the report is that the gentleman in question that day in April is a distant relative of the gentleman who was the most recent double-barrelled named test cricketer for England until Toby Roland-Jones played past year.

      But Scantlebury-Searles is a truly special double-barrelled name. Well spotted, Bradders.

  7. daneel – what’s happened to your team?

    You were dissing Leicestershire last week but this week they have leapt to mid-table respectability.

    Ditto Lancs in their table.

    It’s been a good weekend for the L teams.

    Just need the M team to follow suit tomorrow.

    1. They did almost snatch defeat again today, though. First win since Sep 2016 (also against Glamorgan).

      1. Yup, we only won a single dip against Glamorgan in this season’s second division lottery and our one dip was rained off.

        I really don’t like this five teams twice and four teams once business – it doesn’t feel proper to me…

        …and don’t get me started on six ball overs apart from one over that is a ten ball over…

    2. Crisps

      This is a partial list of good things, and as you can see, none of them begin with M. That’s just how it is – nothing that begins with M can be a good thing. So don’t try to hang on to the coattails of L-things (which are often really good), because you can’t.

    1. We’ve not had much time but skipped to that bit and it was truly beautiful.

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