IRELAND have chosen the stronghold of Stormont in Belfast to host this season’s potentially two most important homes games - the final round of World Cup qualifiers against Scotland on September 6 and 8.
After four of the seven rounds of ICC World Cricket League matches, Scotland lie in second place behind Ireland on the table with the two top sides qualifying automatically for the 2015 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.
Ireland and Scotland play their fifth round of qualifying matches this month, with Scotland taking on Afghanistan and Ireland playing the UAE in Sharjah.
Ireland’s other fixtures in the WCL take place in early July when the team travel to The Netherlands.
In a busy season of international and domestic fixtures, Stormont will also play host to the touring Australian A side who will be playing a four-day game from June 14-17 to give their players practice in European conditions ahead of the Ashes campaign.
Ireland’s other games against Test-playing nations will see William Porterfield’s men facing Pakistan in the RSA Insurance ODI series at Clontarf in May, while the blue riband game of the year features England at the new ODI venue in Malahide on September 3.
Cricket Ireland is also engaging with ICC and the Bangladesh Cricket Board regarding repeating last year’s Bangladesh visit to Ireland, Scotland and The Netherlands, which CI has earmarked for the new home of major cricket in the North-West, at Bready CC.
Ireland coach Phil Simmons said: “It’s another incredibly important year for Irish cricket as we attempt to make it to the World Cup finals and also defend our ICC World Twenty20 qualifiers trophy in November.
“We’ve been to the final stages of five world tournaments and we want to make it seven. It’s fantastic that we’ve got the high profile matches on home soil against Pakistan and England, and we hope to get another series against Bangladesh in August.”