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May 17, 2018

Ireland open to tour Pakistan if ‘stars align’


May 17, 2018

DUBLIN: Ireland are open to touring Pakistan if “all the stars align,” the chief executive of men’s Test cricket’s newest nation has said.

The Irish made their Test debut with a highly creditable five-wicket loss to Pakistan at Malahide Cricket Club that concluded Tuesday.The match further strengthened the cricket bonds between Ireland and Pakistan, which date back to when the non-Test nation knocked the sub-continental giants out of the 2007 World Cup with a stunning win in Jamaica.

Pakistan became a no-go area for leading cricket teams after an attack by terrorists on Sri Lanka’s team bus in Lahore in 2009, with the United Arab Emirates becoming the team’s unofficial home.

Zimbabwe became the first major international team to return to Pakistan in 2015, while April saw World Twenty20 champions West Indies visit for a three-match T20 series.Ireland were due to tour Pakistan in 2014 only for the trip to be cancelled after an attack on the Karachi airport.

The Pakistan Cricket Board hope to be able to host a full series by 2020 and Cricket Ireland Chief Executive Warren Deutrom said Tuesday that his organisation remained “very amenable” to touring Pakistan.

“We haven’t received an official invitation,” Deutrom told AFP at Malahide following the end of the Test match. “The chairman of the Pakistan board was here. I haven’t had a complete debrief with our chairman yet to see whether or not those conversations took place but I wouldn’t even say those conversations even started here.

“For months, years, we’ve actually said to Pakistan, when you think it’s right, safe to invite us, when you want to, economically or commercially, we are very amenable to an invitation,” he added.

“When you send an invitation we presume it’s because you perceive it to be safe enough for us to receive the invitation and then when you give us all the security arrangements around that we will look at that seriously, share them with our players, government, insurers and if all the stars align, we’d be happy to come.”

“We’ve always said Test cricket wasn’t the end of the journey, it’s the beginning,” Deutrom explained.“We’ve probably done this the wrong way around. Most teams, they get very good at what they do domestically then they make a big noise globally. We’ve made a big noise globally and are using that as a means of driving popularity and visibility of the sport back here in Ireland.”

Gaelic games, rugby and football dominate the Irish sporting landscape but Deutrom is convinced cricket, with its international reach, can make its mark.“We’re not going to suddenly be the biggest sport overnight but if I look back where we were 10 years ago to where we are now, and trace the potential for us over the next five, 10 years, there’s no reason why we shouldn’t be a major sport in Ireland,” he insisted.

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