Cricket Ireland await nod from...

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Cricket Ireland await nod from two governments to get ready for England


Cricket Ireland were given further cause for hope that the men's team will face England this summer but there are several barriers still blocking their way.

One of those barriers is the delay in approval from governments in Dublin and Belfast to allow the Irish squad to resume training.

There was good news from the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) this afternoon as it announced that the Ageas Bowl and Old Trafford are set to host the England men's Test match series against West Indies.

The three matches will be played behind closed doors at the bio-secure venues, which both have on-site hotels.

When they arrive in the UK on 9 June, the West Indies squad will travel to Old Trafford for quarantining and training.

The ECB also noted in the statement released today: "For all other fixtures (both domestic and international), the ECB is continuing to work with partners across the game to determine how best to schedule matches and would like to thank supporters for their patience during this process."

One of those fixtures is the three-match One Day International (ODI) series between England and Ireland that was originally slated for September but now looks likely to be played at the end of July.

While today's news gives clearer indication that playing matches is now possible, Cricket Ireland still has issues that need to be resolved a little closer to home.

OTB Sport understands that one major barrier for the Irish governing body is getting approval to return to training from the both the Irish and Northern Irish governments.

11 days ago, Cricket Ireland made a submission to both Sport Ireland and Sport NI regarding a return-to-training for cricket in Phase 2 / Step 2 of the respective government roadmaps to reopening.

This is a key issue, as the ODI matches serve as part of the qualification process for the 2023 Cricket World Cup and the Irish cricketers need as much preparation time as possible before facing the reigning world champions.

It is all the more important after the summer home series against New Zealand and T20 matches against Pakistan were both cancelled.

Other stumbling blocks for the Irish squad include the issue of whether players based north or south of the border will need to quarantine before they play and also if they will be hampered by travel restrictions.

The Irish players' association will also need to be consulted and assured over player safety with regard to the protocols put in place.

Phase two of the Irish governments easing of restrictions, which begins on 8 June, allows for team sports training in small groups with social distancing.

While the dates for each step in the return of sport in Northern Ireland are not as clear, there are exceptions for 'high performance' or 'professional' athletes.

England players were allowed to resume training last week with certain restrictions in place while this week batsmen and wicketkeepers made a return, with the number of training grounds and coaches increased.



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