Irish cricket is in a strange place. They have shown they are capable of matching Pakistan, getting a tie in one match and losing by the slimmest of margins in the other. They beat England at one World Cup and Bangladesh at another, all within the last few years. They routinely dominate the associate level of international cricket.
And yet, they lack the support of the wider world of cricket administrators. How else do you explain a situation where a talented team, with the potential to become a fully fledged international side, is routinely ignored and marginalised? Their next match against a full member is in September, a one off against England. And this is the trend for Irish cricket, one or two matches here and there, hardly enough to develop.
What they need is high quality international cricket, and lots of it. Tours to test playing nations, such as Bangladesh and Zimbabwe, should be arranged immediately. Given how much talent England has poached from Ireland, for both their international side and the county game, they should really give Ireland fixtures in return. Any team that travels to England should play the Irish too, either as a warm up or a coda to the tour.
The people of Ireland would clearly support the matches too. The second ODI against Pakistan was a sell out, with thousands more watching the match on an enjoyable and informative live stream on Youtube. Cricket is a sport in Ireland that crosses the divide between the North and the Republic, further increasing its appeal. If one thing is clear, it is that further international cricket in Ireland would not be a flop.
Are the various cricket boards around the world serious about growing the international game? If so, Ireland (and to a degree Afghanistan, Holland, Canada, Kenya and Scotland) need to be playing top level international cricket. Who cares if they lose most of their games? So do New Zealand, Zimbabwe and Bangladesh. At the moment though any momentum built up by the Irish is doomed to die a slow death, with nothing to keep them there players will always be looking at England as their best bet for an international career. Is this in the interests of anyone?