Warren Deutrom and Phil Simmins at Vision to 2020Vision to 2020 – Ireland a Test Nation

Cricket Ireland today set out a bold Vision for the future of the game in Ireland that includes Ireland becoming a full Test nation by 2020.

The Vision was set out as part of a series of major announcements made by Cricket Ireland today. Chief Executive, Warren Deutrom outlined the ambition as he unveiled the new strategic plan for Irish Cricket to 2015. The plan sets out a series of stretching goals including increasing the number of participants in the game to 50,000, setting a target of reaching 8th in the World rankings, establish a domestic first-class cricket structure and reinforcing cricket as the 4th major team sport in Ireland.

Deutrom commented: “We have set ourselves a very clear long-term ambition – to become a full Test Nation by 2020, nothing less. This is not a dreamy aspiration but a real ambition founded on the playing talent being developed on this island, the growing passion and profile of the game here, a sustained and proven track record of achievement on and off the field, and a clear roadmap set out by us for how to get there.”

Phil Simmons extends contract

Cricket Ireland also announced today major developments relating to the international team. It was announced that Phil Simmons, National Coach, has agreed to extend his contract for a further two years which will see him continue at the helm until at least the end of the World Cup group stage qualification at the end of 2013.

Reflecting on his decision to extend his contract, Simmons said: “I have enjoyed every minute of my involvement with the Irish set up since I came on board in 2007. We have achieved great things so far but there is far more to come.”

23 Player Contracts Awarded

As an additional boost Cricket Ireland also announced that they have offered 23 contracts to players for 2012 – a record number of player contracts. The contracts include 12 first-choice senior squad players on category A and B contracts plus an additional 11 players on category C contracts.

Commenting on the contracts, Phil Simmons National Coach said: “A key part of our success to date has been the move to professionalism. With so many players on full or part time contracts we now have a structure supporting the Senior squad as well as our succession planning to make sure we can maintain our competitiveness on the International stage.”

The full list of player contract awards is:

Category A: Alex Cusack, Trent Johnston, John Mooney, Kevin O'Brien.

Category B:  William Porterfield, George Dockrell, Ed Joyce, Niall O'Brien, Boyd Rankin, Paul Stirling, Andrew White, Gary Wilson.

Category C: Andrew Balbirnie, Peter Connell, Tom Fisher, Shane Getkate, Nigel Jones, Rory McCann, Andrew Poynter, James Shannon, Max Sorensen, Stuart Thompson, Albert van der Merwe.

Grass Roots Initiatives

Reflecting the rising popularity of the game in Ireland, Cricket Ireland committed to developing the grass roots of the sport over the next four years. New plans were unveiled to provide a significant boost to the domestic game with a series of initiatives designed to strengthen the game on the Island and help achieve the ambitious target of 50,000 participants by 2015.

The initiatives include:

In launching these initiatives Cricket Ireland CEO Warren Deutrom said, “Our commitment to the game at the Grass Roots level will hopefully make a real difference on the ground. We wanted to increase our support to give as much attention to the domestic game as we have to the International teams in the last four years.”

Cricket Ireland Performance Director Richard Holdsworth commented “Our strategic plan has set out a strong focus on strengthening the game from the bottom up. We have seen what we have achieved with the International team – we now hope to deliver equally impressive results with the growth of the game locally.”

Sky coverage of RSA Challenge

Cricket Ireland also announced today that Sky Sports has agreed to broadcast live ball-by-ball coverage of the RSA Challenge versus Australia on Saturday 23rd June in Belfast. Reflecting on the announcement, Warren Deutrom CEO Cricket Ireland noted: “It is rare indeed that Sky puts its own cameras into a non-England fixture and we believe this is a sure sign of the growing interest in the Irish game and a further indication of the progress we are making.”

Tickets for the encounter are already on sale through Ticketmaster with early ticket sales proving very strong and another full house expected for the RSA Challenge.

Increased commercial funding

Finally, Cricket Ireland also announced that it has reached agreement on a series of new commercial funding deals that will underpin all of the programmes outlined in the strategic plan. The new commercial deals provide a financial stability that allows the initiatives outlined in the strategic plan become a reality.

Commenting on these deals Warren Deutrom CEO said “We have and will continue to receive fantastic support from RSA Insurance as our main commercial partner and we look forward to extending the scale and scope of that support. A formal announcement of this and other commercial deals will be made in the coming weeks. This allows us to proceed with confidence as we work towards our vision of becoming a Test nation by 2020.”