Cricket Ireland set out Vision to become a Test Nation by 2020

Tue, Jan 24, 2012 7:37 PM

Cricket Ireland today set out a bold Vision for the future of the game in Ireland that includes Ireland becoming a full Test nation by 2020. The Vision was set out as part of a series of major announcements made by Cricket Ireland today.

Chief Executive, Warren Deutrom outlined the ambition as he unveiled the new strategic plan for Irish Cricket to 2015. The plan sets out a series of stretching goals including increasing the number of participants in the game to 50,000, setting a target of reaching 8th in the World rankings, establish a domestic first-class cricket structure and reinforcing cricket as the 4th major team sport in Ireland.

Deutrom commented: "We have set ourselves a very clear long-term ambition to become a full Test Nation by 2020, nothing less. This is not a dreamy aspiration but a real ambition founded on the playing talent being developed on this island, the growing passion and profile of the game here, a sustained and proven track record of achievement on and off the field, and a clear roadmap set out by us for how to get there."

Cricket Ireland also announced today major developments relating to the international team. It was announced that Phil Simmons, National Coach, has agreed to extend his contract for a further two years which will see him continue at the helm until at least the end of the World Cup group stage qualification at the end of 2013.

Reflecting on his decision to extend his contract, Simmons said: "I have enjoyed every minute of my involvement with the Irish set up since I came on board in 2007. We have achieved great things so far but there is far more to come."

As an additional boost Cricket Ireland also announced that they have offered 23 contracts to players for 2012 a record number of player contracts. The contracts include 12 first-choice senior squad players on category A and B contracts plus an additional 11 players on category C contracts.
Commenting on the contracts, Phil Simmons National Coach said: "A key part of our success to date has been the move to professionalism. With so many players on full or part time contracts we now have a structure supporting the Senior squad as well as our succession planning to make sure we can maintain our competitiveness on the International stage."

The full list of player contract awards is:

Category A: Trent Johnston, Alex Cusack, Kevin O'Brien, John Mooney.

Category B: William Porterfield, Niall O'Brien, Paul Stirling, George Dockrell, Gary Wilson, Boyd Rankin, Ed Joyce, Andrew White.

Category C: Albert van der Merwe, Nigel Jones, Max Sorensen, Shane Getkate, James Shannon, Stuart Thompson, Andrew Poynter, Andrew Balbirnie, Tom Fisher, Peter Connell, Rory McCann.

Reflecting the rising popularity of the game in Ireland, Cricket Ireland committed to developing the grass roots of the sport over the next four years. New plans were unveiled to provide a significant boost to the domestic game with a series of initiatives designed to strengthen the game on the Island and help achieve the ambitious target of 50,000 participants by 2015.

The Get into Cricket Scheme - a major new programme targeting schools and clubs encouraging 6 to 12 years olds to take up the game for the first time
'The National Cup' a new domestic National club competition for clubs not already competing in the Bob Kerr Irish Senior Cup. This provides 32 new clubs with the chance to compete for an All Ireland title and the opportunity to play cricket outside of their local area
The Better Clubs Initiative: An innovative programme supporting local clubs across the country to improve their facilities. This programme is a volunteering initiative aimed at encouraging local cricket supporters, their friend and families to undertake work to improve the facilities at their local club houses and grounds
The Cricket Ireland National Awards: A major awards event recognising players, coaches, volunteers, groundsmen, officials and clubs for the contribution they make to the game in Ireland. This will be an annual event starting in 2012
The establishment of Regional Academies to develop and foster the young talent from the ages of 15 to 19 and ensure a pipeline of players for our International teams
The re-launch of the Inter-Pro Series as a pre-cursor to setting up a first class domestic playing infrastructure in Ireland.

In launching these initiatives Cricket Ireland CEO Warren Deutrom said, "Our commitment to the game at the Grass Roots level will hopefully make a real difference on the ground. We wanted to increase our support to give as much attention to the domestic game as we have to the International teams in the last four years."

Cricket Ireland Performance Director Richard Holdsworth commented: "Our strategic plan has set out a strong focus on strengthening the game from the bottom up. We have seen what we have achieved with the International team ? we now hope to deliver equally impressive results with the growth of the game locally."

Cricket Ireland also announced today that Sky Sports has agreed to broadcast live the ODI match versus Australia on Saturday 23rd June in Belfast.

Reflecting on the announcement, Warren Deutrom CEO Cricket Ireland noted: "It is rare indeed that Sky puts its own cameras into a non-England fixture and we believe this is a sure sign of the growing interest in the Irish game and a further indication of the progress we are making."

Tickets for the encounter are already on sale through Ticketmaster with early ticket sales proving very strong and another full house expected for the RSA Challenge.

Increased commercial funding
Finally, Cricket Ireland also announced that it has reached agreement on a series of new commercial funding deals that will underpin all of the programmes outlined in the strategic plan.

The new commercial deals provide a financial stability that allows the initiatives outlined in the strategic plan become a reality.

Commenting on these deals Warren Deutrom CEO said: "We have and will continue to receive fantastic support from RSA Insurance as our main commercial partner and we look forward to extending the scale and scope of that support. A formal announcement of this and other commercial deals will be made in the coming weeks. This allows us to proceed with confidence as we work towards our vision of becoming a Test nation by 2020."

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