Ireland’s men will not play a full international fixture this home summer, after Pakistan and New Zealand’s scheduled tours were postponed at a virtual board meeting on Wednesday.
Warren Deutrom, Cricket Ireland’s chief executive, remains hopeful that the three scheduled ODIs against England can go ahead in some form, but said that “numerous challenges [still] have to be resolved” which “will take a little while to work through”. This will be the first Irish summer since 2005 not to feature a full international.
New Zealand’s entire European tour has now been postponed, with the scheduled fixtures against Scotland – an ODI and a T20I – also canned following the recent postponement of the planned matches in the Netherlands.
“We deeply regret that we can’t provide any international cricket at home to our fans this year, but we were always up against it with our entire home international programme coming in the first half of the season,” Deutrom said.
“It had become fairly obvious following the recent series of Government announcements in the Republic and UK that the New Zealand series was not feasible. While of course it’s disappointing for the fans in Northern Ireland who I know were looking forward to the visit of the World Cup runners-up, given the circumstances we entirely understand NZC was left with no choice but to stay at home.”
David White, NZC’s CEO, said: “These are extremely difficult times for international cricket and we feel deeply for our friends in the northern hemisphere, whose season has been so badly disrupted. Hopefully, in brighter and less dangerous times, we can return and play the games that have been postponed.”
Gus Mackay, Cricket Scotland’s CEO, said: “We are obviously disappointed that New Zealand’s European tour has been postponed, however, it was to be expected under the current circumstances. We will work closely with New Zealand Cricket and look at opportunities in the future when they are next touring Europe.”
Pakistan’s two T20Is in Ireland, scheduled for mid-July, were due to take place immediately before their tour to England. Deutrom said that complications regarding government timelines, bio-security, quarantining players and finding a window to fit in around the England series meant that it “just hasn’t been possible to find a way to get the matches played”.
Wasim Khan, the PCB’s CEO, said: “We fully respect and endorse Cricket Ireland’s decision at this difficult time. As we have all reiterated, the safety and security of players, officials and fans comes first. The PCB stands firmly with CI in these difficult times and we look forward to revisiting Ireland again as soon as normal services resume.”
Regarding the three-match ODI series in England, initially scheduled for mid-September, Deutrom said that Ireland would “try to be as flexible as possible”, but admitted “numerous challenges have to be resolved” regarding dates, bio-secure venues, and quarantine requirements. “We will continue to work with the ECB on trying to make these fixtures happen, but the issues involved will take a little while to work through.”
Deutrom also confirmed that no firm decision has been made regarding the Euro T20 Slam, which was due to start this year after its inaugural season was postponed in 2019. A final call will be taken next month, but with all cricketing activity in Ireland suspended until June and the game feeling the financial strain of the pandemic, it appears unlikely that the competition will be able to go ahead.