Cricket Ireland announces series against Pakistan
Fri, Mar 25, 2011 7:28 PM
Cricket Ireland announced details of a two match One-Day International series against Pakistan. The matches will both be played at Stormont, Belfast, on Friday 27 May and Sunday 29 May.
The fixtures were made possible thanks to generous funding from the Irish Sports Council, Sport NI, the ICC High Performance Programme, and Ireland's team sponsor RSA.
Ireland famously last played Pakistan in an ODI on St Patrick's Day during the 2007 World Cup, when the team produced one of the greatest shocks in World Cup history.
Pakistan, currently in the World Cup semi-final, are captained by Shahid Afridi, who played for Ireland as an overseas professional in the Friends Provident Trophy in 2006, alongside his fellow country man Saqlain Mushtaq.
Cricket Ireland Chief Executive Warren Deutrom welcomed the games saying: "Following our recent World Cup campaign, the need to play the world's best teams on a more regular basis has become more pressing than ever to give us the experience to continue to compete at the highest level.
"The RSA Series gives us precisely that opportunity, and we are extremely grateful to our four major financial supporters for their swift and generous response to Cricket Ireland. Their commitment to our excellence has been unwavering and is greatly appreciated.
"We are also extremely grateful to the Pakistan Cricket Board for agreeing to these fixtures, particularly coming as they do at the end of a long time away from home for the squad."
Pakistan Cricket Board Chairman Ijaz Butt said: "The fight that the Irish team displayed at the World Cup lit up the event and has added a new flavor to International Cricket. The Pakistan Team's upcoming tour is in line with ICC and PCB's vision of Cricket Development and support to associate members. We anticipate a hard fought series as the irish team has shown that they are capable of playing against the best in the World."
RSA Chief Executive Philip Smith commented on the fixtures saying: "RSA are delighted to lend our support in the latest high profile fixture to involve the Ireland team, and we are sure the games will prove to be a massive success. The team did the country proud during the World Cup, and this will give them the perfect platform to build on that success."
Ireland coach Phil Simmons was clearly delighted at the announcement of the games saying: "This is what we have been crying out for – fixtures against the top teams in the world. We have shown just how much our cricket has improved, and by playing these type of games, it'll keep growing in the right direction. We're due to play Sri Lanka and England as well this summer, so that's definitely a step in the right direction as far as Irish cricket is concerned. These games mean we will have played all the top ten teams in world cricket in just over 12 months, although the New Zealand game wasn't an official ODI.
"It will be a great chance for the players to pit their wits against some of the best cricketers in world cricket, and I'm sure the Irish supporters will come out in numbers to support the team in their first appearances on Irish soil following the World Cup."