Cricket Ireland coach Phil Simmons explained why they had come to this decision. “Our international fixture calendar has become very comprehensive, and, assuming we get what we think we will get fixture-wise and we continue to qualify for events and their latter stages like the last couple of years, we may have between 40-50 international fixtures in 2010. Leading up to the 2011 World Cup in the sub-continent, I want to focus on primarily the 15 or 16 players who will represent us there, and I feel that the 12 additional games would be a step too far for the guys.”
Simmons continued, “The Friends Provident Trophy used to serve us well timing-wise in terms of preparing the players for the international summer. However, given our success and expansion, we are now playing more and more cricket out of season. It’s approaching an all year round game for Irish cricket, therefore the timing doesn’t work as well as in past years. Next year we’ll have Intercontinental Cup games, the ICC World Twenty 20 qualifiers, and hopefully the finals themselves before our traditional season begins.”
Simmons however recognized that the Friends Provident Trophy had played a crucial role in the development of some of Ireland’s rising stars, and revealed his plans to fill that void; “There’s no doubt that the Friends Provident Trophy provided a great platform for players to show their potential, and Paul Stirling and Regan West showed to me just what they were capable of in these games. To ensure that the fringe players get plenty of opportunities to showcase their talent, the ECB are actively assisting us to increase our A team schedule. I hope that we can get a minimum of five 3 day games against County Second XI’s next year. In addition, we have also accepted the offer to play a couple of matches against one of the touring Full Member A-teams next year, details of which are currently being finalized with the ECB.
“We’ll also be playing in the Under 19 World Cup in January in New Zealand , and it’s my intention for a substantial number of that squad to form the basis of the A team. That’s not forgetting about the World Cricket League and possible European Championships, you can see they too will have no shortage of cricket.”
Cricket Ireland Chief Executive Warren Deutrom added: “This was not an easy decision for us, and it was only reached after careful consultation with our key stakeholders, including the national coaches, the Board, the Cricket Committee, ICC and our key commercial partners. Notwithstanding any possible changes to its format down the line, international cricket is our bread and butter and the means by which we are measured on the global stage. Therefore, we felt that we needed to focus our limited financial resources on preparing for our international programme.
“We are very lucky to have England as the Full Member in our region. They have been nothing but incredibly generous with the opportunities they have afforded Ireland at all levels, both within the domestic competition and at full senior level, as evidenced by the England One Day Squad travelling over to Ireland recently following the Ashes Test Series, not to mention the other help that goes unseen, such as coaching materials and advice.
“That generosity is now beginning to pay off, and we are starting to take the stabilisers off the bike and stand on our own two feet as a country that has an improving record of achievement against some of the best teams in the world.”
David Collier, Chief Executive of the ECB, said: “We are pleased that we have supported Ireland in becoming a High Performance Country within the ICC Associate Group. Given the heavy expansion of cricket at International level for this group we can understand why Ireland have focused their resources on international events.
“The ECB, as the Full Member within Europe, continues to support European Associates and Affiliates, and we continue to have an excellent relationship with Ireland . The Irish women participate in our Women’s County Championship while we have an agreement in place to play ODIs in alternate years, and this remains the case as part of a broad agreement with Ireland .
“ Ireland 's place in our domestic one day competition will be taken by the Netherlands who will join Scotland and the England and Wales Recreational Game team from the start of the 2010 season.”