Cricket Ireland has been an associate nation of the ICC for quite some time now. The national side has often proved to be impressive in several ICC tournaments over the years. The ICC chief executive meeting at Cape Town proved to be a worthy one for the Irish cricket board as it took a step closer to achieving Test team status.
The ICC Chief Executives’ Committee approved an application from Cricket Ireland to award first-class status to Ireland’s domestic competition, Inter-Provincial Championship and by extension to its Inter-Provincial ODI and T20 competitions.
"It's important as firstly, it elevates the perception of the competition, and places the inter-pros statistically and status-wise at the same level of all first-class cricket around the world in established Test nations," Cricket Ireland CEO Warren Deutrom was quoted as saying in The Sydney Morning Herald.
He went on to add that, "Playing first-class domestic cricket is a significant milestone on our long-stated journey to become a Test nation and is what the full members do . So if we want to be considered among the front rank of nations, then so must we."
The move was welcomed by the national coach, John Bracewell as well. He was pretty happy with the development and said that this would only improve the standard of cricket in Ireland.
While taking to The Sydney Morning Herald, he said, "First-class cricket is the vital link between part-time cricket and the full commitment of the international game. It is connected to your value in world cricket, historically. This to me is key for Irish-based players willing to make the sacrifices necessary to reach the standards required to compete at the pinnacle of our sport.
“Over the last two seasons watching domestic cricket in Ireland I have seen consistent performances from top quality cricketers who deserve to have these recognized. The standard of play is not only highly competitive but also First Class in its output.”
ICC Chief Executive David Richardson said, "Cricket Ireland’s Inter-Provincial Championship is well structured and provides a clear pathway for players from under-age through to inter-provincial to the national team."
“The Championship is professionally run, played mainly in international standard venues and some games are live streamed and I’d like to commend Cricket Ireland on the work they have done to achieve first class domestic status," he said.
This is the first time that a first-class status has been awarded to a domestic competition outside of a Test-playing country. And if everything goes well, the Ireland cricket team hope to play their first international Test in 2019.