Ireland and Afghanistan will become the sport’s first new full members since the promotion of Bangladesh in 2000, following a unanimous vote at the ICC’s annual conference at the Oval.
Ireland will see their ICC funding double to €5m a year, and Cricket Ireland’s chief executive Warren Deutrom hopes Test status will help them hold on to their best players in the future.
Ed Joyce, Eoin Morgan and Boyd Rankin all opted to declare for England in the hope of playing Test cricket, although Joyce and Rankin have since returned to play for Ireland.
Morgan played 16 Tests for England between 2010 and 2012, and currently captains England in white-ball cricket.
“Test cricket is the pinnacle of the game, and the reason players in the past opted to declare for England,” Deutrom said.
“And so, we needed to share the same dream as our best players or risk of losing them.” Cricket Ireland president Ross McCollum will stay in London to attend an ICC meeting in London to discuss future fixtures.
“We can now commence discussions with several parties about staging our first Test, and look forward to the outcome of discussions around international cricket structures which will help us unlock increased commercial funding to assist in the development of the game,” he said.
Ireland and Afghanistan are excluded from the proposed Test league, in which the top nine-ranked teams will play 12 Test series on a home-and-away basis over four years from 2019.
But Ireland and Afghanistan are permitted to organise Test matches outside the league structure, and Cricket Ireland may invite Pakistan to play an inaugural Test match in Malahide or Dublin in May 2018 before the Cornered Tigers’ tour of England.
“We haven’t really thought about who our first opponents might be,” Deutrom admitted.
“We have been too busy concentrating on getting this over the line.
But, what I will say is that two chief executives of full member countries said to me after the meeting that we should talk soon about possible fixtures.” The increase in ICC funding is significant but not life-changing.
Ireland’s recent one-day international Tri-Series with New Zealand and Bangladesh cost €1m to stage, although Cricket Ireland recouped at least half those costs by selling the television and sponsorship rights up front.
It will cost Ireland at least €500,000 to stage a Test match, but Deutrom is confident that future sponsorship and television revenue streams will increase with Test status.
“Television companies and sponsors don’t like one-off events. They like certainty, and with Test status, we will be able to provide certainty over several years,” he said.