Ireland’s Test schedule for 2020 has suffered a further blow, with the confirmation that Sri Lanka have postponed their scheduled one-off Test match in February.
The news comes just days after Ireland were forced to cancel their home Test against Bangladesh, due to what their CEO Warren Deutrom described as the “financial headwinds” being faced by the board since their accession to Test status.
According to a SLC press release, the Ireland tour has been postponed because it had not been an original part of the board’s broadcast agreement, which was signed long before Ireland became an ICC Full Member.
A new date for the tour will be announced in due course, once SLC has agreed a new broadcast deal. Their current deal, signed with Ten Sports for an estimated US$60 million in 2013, is.due to expire next year
Under the original schedule, Ireland had been due to tour Sri Lanka in January and Febuary 2020, with a one-off Test scheduled in Galle from February 8 to 12.
It would have been Ireland’s first Test against Sri Lanka and only their third in all, after previous fixtures against Pakistan in Malahide in 2018, Afghanistan in Dehradun and England at Lord’s last summer.
Ireland are widely expected to cancel a proposed Test against Afghanistan in March as well, with a focus on T20I fixtures instead in the build-up to next year’s T20 World Cup in Australia.
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According to the Future Tours Programme, Ireland are also due to play a Test in Zimbabwe in April, as well as five T20Is, but those matches have not been confirmed either. They will travel to West Indies in January, for three T20Is and three ODIs, but no Test.
“We were far progressed in our planning for this short tour, so we and the travelling squad are obviously disappointed,” said Deutrom.
“Rest assured we shall work as quickly as possible with SLC to identify an alternative slot for the match and we shall communicate that as soon as it is confirmed. “
Speaking about the financial issues facing Irish cricket earlier this week, Deutrom said that “tough decisions” needed to be made.
“The first area of prioritisation for 2020, has been white-ball cricket over red ball,” Deutrom said in a statement on the Cricket Ireland website. “Like all Irish cricket fans, we would love nothing more than to be competing on all three fronts – Tests, ODIs and T20Is.”
Unfortunately, with Ireland’s fixtures falling outside the World Test Championship, Deutrom said that the overheads associated with Test cricket could not be justified in the short term.
On the Bangladesh cancellation, he said: “As the Test does not form part of the World Test Championship, the one-off match lacks context. For effectively a ‘friendly’, the expected costs for hosting the Test would be over €1 million, with little expectation of creating revenue streams to cover the costs of hosting.”