Irish cricket has received another tremendous boost with the news that it has been appointed by the International Cricket Council to host the ICC Women's World Twenty20 Global Qualifier next year.
The tournament, due to be held in July/August 2013, will see eight teams battle it out for the final spot in the ICC Women's World Twenty20 2014 scheduled to be held in Bangladesh. The global event, in April 2014, has seven teams already qualified, namely, current champions Australia plus England, New Zealand, West Indies, India, South Africa and hosts Bangladesh.
For the Qualifier, hosts Ireland will be joined by Pakistan and Sri Lanka, both of whom played in the recently completed ICC Women's World Twenty20 2012 earlier this year in Sri Lanka.
Other countries taking part include Canada, Japan and The Netherlands, who lost to Ireland in the European qualifying tournament earlier this season.
The final two places in the summer tournament will be taken by qualifiers from the Africa and Asia regions.
Cricket Ireland Chief Executive Warren Deutrom welcomed the announcement saying: "It's fantastic news for Irish cricket and a tremendous boost for the promotion of the women's game throughout the country. Ireland has proved itself to be a great venue for hosting global tournaments, having staged the 2005 ICC Trophy, the 2008 ICC World Twenty20 Qualifiers and the 2010 ICC Under 19 Global Qualifiers very successfully. We're delighted that ICC has awarded us this competition and I'm certain it will be a wonderful occasion."
ICC Global Development Manager Tim Anderson said: "The ICC is pleased to announce Ireland as the host of the ICC Women’s World Twenty20 Qualifier in 2013. The ongoing improvement of Women’s cricket is an important strategic objective of the ICC, and with Ireland’s track record of hosting ICC events, we are confident this important qualifying competition will be played in very good conditions, with excellent hospitality.”
Irish women's captain Isobel Joyce was excited about the chance to qualify for a global tournament on home soil saying: "This gives everyone involved in Irish women's cricket a great lift and it's a great incentive for the players to have the chance to make it to the final stages of a global event. We're already training hard for the event and while it's obviously a big advantage to be playing in our conditions, we know it'll be very difficult against teams of the quality of Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Having said that, we've a fantastic balance in the squad now of youth and experience and there's no reason why we can't grab the last slot on offer."
Further details regarding the format and dates of the tournament will be released by ICC in due course.