Bangladesh seek Ireland tour
Nick Royle (Setanta Sports)
The Bangladesh Cricket Board have made a formal request to Cricket Ireland to tour the country in July, Setanta Sports can reveal.
Bangladesh are seeking to play a four-day game, two one-day internationals and either one or two Twenty20 internationals in the last two weeks of the month.
If the tour goes ahead it will be the first time that Ireland will play a four-day game against a full Test nation.
However, the plans could yet be scuppered by financial constraints, as Cricket Ireland need to raise between €120,000 and €150,000 in order to cover Bangladesh's costs.
Although the request for the series has come from Bangladesh, the host country is expected to underwrite the tour regarding transport and accommodation costs.
As members of the Future Tours Programme, full Test-playing members receive a grant each year from the International Cricket Council for such costs, of between €5.5 million and €7million. In contrast, as an associate member, Ireland's grant from the ICC is €520,000.
Ireland's budget from the ICC is already committed to the hosting of Afghanistan for a 4-day Intercontinental Cup game and two World Cup qualifiers at the start of July, and a month-long tour by South Africa 'A' in August.
Ireland also host Australia in the RSA Challenge one-day international in Belfast on June 23, but that is expected to be self-funding after Sky Sports agreed to cover the game.
Cricket Ireland told Setanta Sports that they have made a formal request to the ICC for extra funding to host full member tours, and that their application coincided with Bangladesh's realisation that they had no cricket scheduled between May and August.
"We have put a request in with the ICC for Targeted Assistance and Performance Programme Funding (TAPP)," high performance director Richard Holdsworth said.
"The main part of that application has been to increase the numbers of matches with full members.
"CI chief executive Warren Deutrom and myself made that application to the ICC's Financial and Commercial Affairs committee. The idea of it is to bridge the gap between the top six full members, the remaining full members and the top two associates. "
Bangladesh found themselves with no cricket for the summer months after South Africa turned down their proposal to play three ODIs and five Twenty20 matches in May, whilst attempts to tour Pakistan in April were scuppered by security concerns, and it is unlikely that it can be rescheduled at a later date.
"Around that time, Bangladesh got in touch with Warren, and said: 'We would very much like to play Ireland'," Holdsworth continued.
"That is a little change in culture, for full members to be coming to us and asking for games! But it reflects how far Irish cricket has come."
Holdsworth hopes to know next week whether the ICC will provide the additional funding that will allow the series to go ahead.
"We are in constant negotiations with the ICC, and they are huge supporters of everything we do, so we cannot be too pushy. We hope to announce something next week, as time is obviously moving on, and we need to get things in place," he said.