Sunday 26 January 2020

Test off due to lack of broadcast partner

Warren Deutrom
Warren Deutrom

Ireland were forced to announce the loss of a second Test match in three days yesterday when a proposed tour of Sri Lanka in February was postponed indefinitely because the hosts have been unable to interest a TV broadcaster.

A five-day match at the iconic ground in Galle, overlooked by its Dutch fort, was slated to take place between February 8-12, but has suffered a similar fate to next summer's home Test against Bangladesh that was officially cancelled on Monday.

"ICC regulations require all Tests to be broadcast," Warren Deutrom, the CEO of Cricket Ireland, said. "We were far progressed in our plans for this short tour and we are deeply sorry for those family, friends, fans and media who had made arrangements to travel."

Ireland became the 11th country to play Test cricket in 2018, when Pakistan were the visitors to Malahide, but that remains the only home match to date, along with an away game against Afghanistan and the historic clash with England at Lord's in July. While the Boys in Green will tour the Caribbean to play two three-match series against the West Indies, in the T20 and ODI formats, the only Test match in the pipeline is a mooted encounter with Zimbabwe in April which must be highly doubtful after this week's setbacks.

When announcing the scrapping of the Bangladesh match, Deutrom blamed a "lack of context" for Ireland's five-day games, as the ICC new boys are not included in the Test Championship.

Yet until the introduction of the Championship this year, all Test matches since 1877 lacked any such context and the absence of points scoring took nothing away from Ireland's heroic performance in dismissing England for 85 at the 'Home of Cricket'.

Deutrom would already have known that the Sri Lanka tour was not going ahead when he made that original statement, as Cricket Ireland staff were informed on Monday, but it is protocol for the home board to announce such changes.

A statement released in Colombo said: "The tour was not part of Sri Lanka Cricket's broadcast agreement, which was inked at a time when Ireland was not a full member. Hence, it has been decided to reschedule to a later date to ensure that the proposed one-off Test match will come under the next agreement, which SLC is planning to sign in 2020."

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