Australia men’s tour of Ireland could be postponed due to financial and venue pressures

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Ireland are contemplating postponing their first ever men’s bilateral series against Australia due to financial and logistical pressures.

Under the Future Tours Programme, Australia are scheduled to tour Ireland for three ODIs and a one-off T20I in August and September before journeying to England for further white-ball series.

But the likely strains of a hectic home summer ahead for Ireland has forced a reconsideration of the Australia fixtures and whether they can feasibly go ahead. Australia have previously played one-off ODIs in Ireland around tours to England.

Pakistan and South Africa are set to tour for white-ball series, while Ireland will also host a T20 tri-series with the Netherlands and Scotland. Ireland, who just recently won their first ever Test match against Afghanistan, are set to play Zimbabwe in a one-off Test and white-ball cricket. Ireland have not hosted a Test match since their debut against Pakistan in 2018.

England, Sri Lanka and the Netherlands are also earmarked to tour Ireland in women’s cricket. Ireland’s home schedule is expected to be announced within a fortnight.

“What we had in the FTP as a whole… it’s a real challenge to deliver all of it. We’ve got almost too much cricket for the amount of venues that we’ve got,” Cricket Ireland high performance director Richard Holdsworth told ESPNcricinfo.

“Costs of putting on games in Ireland have gone up considerably since Covid. Hotel prices, putting up temporary infrastructure for grounds have gone up astronomically.”

Holdsworth said the Australia white-ball series would not be shifted to England, where Ireland have previously hosted matches in Chelmsford and Bristol. After this year, Australia are not set to tour the UK until the 2027 Ashes.

“England have a really heavy schedule around that time, and we certainly wouldn’t be considering playing the likes of Australia at a very small county ground,” he said. “We’re still looking at all options in terms of whether or not we can host [Australia] this summer or whether we move [them] into a different part of the FTP.”

Holdsworth said delivering the entire international schedule would have been easier if Ireland had access to its full allocation of ICC funds from the new distribution model.

Some of the funds allocated to members in the distribution model will go into a retained surplus fund, which will be invested and distributed back to members at a later time. Around US$3 million of their $18 million a year allocation is earmarked for the surplus fund.

“It has meant that our budget is not as great as we thought it would be,” Holdsworth said. “If we had more revenues coming in this year, there’s no question that we could have been able to deliver more.”

Holdsworth said Ireland, along with Afghanistan and Zimbabwe, may be able to reduce the withholding of funding by a small percentage with discussions over the issue set for next week’s ICC meetings in Dubai.

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