Latest Test entrant Ireland will play their debut Test on home soil against Pakistan in May 2018, Cricket Ireland has announced on Thursday (October 12). Ireland, who became the 11th full Member of the International Cricket Council, were given Test status in June 2017 along with Afghanistan.
In a monumental moment for the sport, Ireland and Afghanistan were accorded Test status by the ICC meeting at The Oval in June after a unanimous vote by the other full-member nations. And now, four months after the announcement, the European nation finally announced their first fixture in the longest format of the game.
"We are excited to welcome Pakistan to Ireland for our inaugural Test match next year. It has been our wish to make our Test debut in front of our own fans within 12 months of becoming a Test nation, and against a big team, so I'm delighted," Warren Deutrom, Cricket Ireland's CEO, said following an agreement between both boards during the ICC meetings in Auckland yesterday.
"There is a lot of work to do from now to ensure that it will be an occasion to remember but we, and I'm sure our players and fans, can't wait to rise to it. We would like to thank the Pakistan Cricket Board most sincerely for agreeing to be our first opponent in Test cricket, the Pakistan team has been a regular visitor to our shores in recent years, and their agreement to be our opponent on this important occasion for Irish cricket is further evidence of their terrific support," Deutrom said.
The enthusiasm over the confirmation of the historic fixture was echoed by Ireland captain William Porterfield, who recalled Ireland's ODI victory against Pakistan in the 2007 World Cup - the team's first victory against a Test nation. In last 10 years, that victory was Ireland's only win against the Asian nation across all formats, although both the sides played out a thrilling tie in an ODI in Dublin in 2013.
"It's fantastic news for Irish cricket. It's going to be a bit special and it's always great to be a part of history. There's a special affinity between ourselves and Pakistan going back to the 2007 World Cup and they've been regular tourists here over the past decade.
"Test cricket is the pinnacle of our sport and I know how much this game will mean to not only the players but all involved with Irish cricket. It'll be another step on what has been an incredible journey for our sport in a relatively short passage of time. It's sure to be an incredible and emotional experience for all involved. I know how much this will mean to all the players and just how much we all will forward to our dream of being Test cricketers realised. I'm certain there will be an incredible atmosphere from both sets of fans who will be keen to witness a piece of history," Porterfield added.