Irish cricket has received a boost with the historic decision by ICC to grant the Hanley Energy Inter-Provincial Championship first-class status.
Matches in the Twenty20 and 50 overs formats in the competition will also be elevated to List A status. It is the first time first-class status has been awarded to a domestic competition outside of a Test-playing country.
“First-class cricket is the vital link between part-time cricket and the full commitment of the international game,” said Ireland Head Coach John Bracewell.
“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 recognised. The standard of play is not only highly competitive but also First Class in its output.”
Cricket Ireland CEO Warren Deutrom, who was in South Africa when the decision was announced, outlined the importance of the decision to award first-class status to the Irish domestic game.
“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.
“At the moment, the matches, while hard-fought, are no more than friendlies so even monumental performances such as Nick Larkin’s 247* and Adam Dennison’s 206 (both for the Northern Knights) count for nothing in the game’s statistical records.
“Bestowing first-class status places these achievements in the game’s official records and allows players to start accumulating career statistics, and puts them in the shop-window for opportunities overseas. These same opportunities can also now apply to the officials standing in these matches.”
Deutrom also outlined the significance of the decision as Ireland push for higher recognition in the sport.
“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 – if we want to be considered among the front rank of nations, then so must we.”
Irish international John Anderson who captained Leinster Lightning to a treble this year was clearly delighted at the competiton’s elevation.
“It’s great news that the Inter-Provincials have been given first-class and List-A status. It is just reward for Cricket Ireland and all involved for the hard work that has been put in over the last four seasons.
“It is indicative of the standard of cricket that is on show in the competition. The games provide a shop window for all players to show-case their skills and has provided me with a stepping stone to play international cricket.
“Hopefully with the elevated status it will be a further incentive for all players to play and perform for their province and continue to provide a pathway to the Ireland team,” concluded Anderson.
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.”