Cricket Ireland: Ireland Men are back in Test action next month as part of multi-format series

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Photo Credit: Bangladesh Cricket Board

Ireland Men will return to Test cricket action next month when they face Afghanistan Men in Abu Dhabi – the red-ball match precedes three ODIs and three T20Is as part of a seven-match, multi-format series announced overnight.

The Test match (28 February to 3 March) will be the second time the two sides have met in the longest format, with Afghanistan winning the first meeting by seven wickets in 2019.

In addition to the five-day Test, the white-ball matches – particularly the three T20Is – will be used as vital preparation as both sides build towards the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup in June.

FIXTURE SCHEDULE

  • 28 February – 3 March: Afghanistan Men v Ireland Men (Test Match; Abu Dhabi; start 10am)
  • 7 March: Afghanistan Men v Ireland Men (1st ODI; Sharjah; start 3.30pm)
  • 9 March: Afghanistan Men v Ireland Men (2nd ODI; Sharjah; start 3.30pm)
  • 12 March: Afghanistan Men v Ireland Men (3rd ODI; Sharjah; start 3.30pm)
  • 15 March: Afghanistan Men v Ireland Men (1st T20I; Sharjah; start 8pm)
  • 17 March: Afghanistan Men v Ireland Men (2nd T20I; Sharjah; start 8pm)
  • 18 March: Afghanistan Men v Ireland Men (3rd T20I; Sharjah; start 8pm)

NB: all times are local to the venue

Speaking about the series, Cricket Ireland’s High Performance Director, Richard Holdsworth said:

After the success of the Zimbabwe tour last month, it is important that the squad maintains the momentum as we build towards the T20 World Cup in June. The break has been beneficial for the players, after an intensely busy year largely on the road in 2023, so the players and coaches are raring to get back into action.

While a few of our players are participating in franchise leagues over the next few weeks, the rest of the squad have been training indoors, so we’ve made the decision to take the squad out to the UAE for a prep camp in advance of the series. There was a 20 degrees differential in temperatures today between Dublin and Dubai, so the players will spend the first few days acclimatising ahead of the Test match, which is a gruelling challenge at the best of times.

We are certainly no strangers to Abu Dhabi and know the stadium well, so playing the Test there first up will be as much a case of adapting to the different format as different conditions. We know that the Zayed Cricket Stadium as a Test venue is one that rewards patient batting – and once a batter is set then we’ve seen some big individual and team totals made.

Last time we played a Test against Afghanistan there were five Test debutants in the Playing XI. This time we will likely go into the Test with players who have experienced Test cricket and have started to understand what the format entails – its rhythms, the way it ebbs and flows, but – most importantly – the lesson it teaches in patience and consistency. It won’t be easy, Afghanistan is a good side, but under Heinrich [Malan] we are starting to develop a three-format mindset and can go into the game with the belief that our first Test win is achievable.

Ireland has gone through a major transition over the last few years, but the last 18 months has seen a new generation of players step up and show the world the talent we have known they have had for many years. And in the last 12 months, for the first time ever, Ireland has a batter in the top 10 in ODI rankings, had an Irish wicketkeeper named in numerous Test Teams of the Year, seen its first IPL representative play in the Final of the world’s biggest franchise tournament, and has won two series away from home against a Full Member.

This series marks the start of a big year in Irish cricket – at senior men’s and women’s, pathway, domestic and youth representative levels, we all have much to look forward to in 2024.

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