Cricket minnows Ireland will take on world champions England on Thursday in the new ICC ODI Super League, as they aim to become genuine contenders in world cricket.
Ireland are relatively new to the international scene, having competed at the 2007, 2011 and 2015 World Cups but missing out on qualification last year.
They famously reached the Super 8s at the 2007 World Cup in the Caribbean, while they’ve been regulars in participating at World T20s over the past decade.
Ireland have been included in the new ODI Super League which the ICC believes can help develop these smaller nations.
“These Cricket World Cup Super League series are very important for the smaller countries,” Geoff Allardice, the ICC’s general manager of cricket operations, said.
“Getting series that are part of the competition, that have got a degree of certainty around them. They’re important because they provide a certain level of competition to those countries which is often left to more last-minute negotiations.
“If they can start planning - apart from the disruption that the coronavirus has caused - it would be able to give them a lot more certainty with their planning and their high performance plans, looking through this cycle through to the 2023 World Cup.”
For Ireland, taking on England in the tournament will not be easy, and captain Eoin Morgan, who has Irish heritage, weighed in.
“The most important thing for Irish cricket is playing as many fixtures as they can,” Morgan said.
“If you have a group of young, talented players, you can’t just have them sitting on the sidelines.
“I said the same when they gained Test status. That’s great, but what fixtures are they going to play? It’s great that they are getting more and more - but you can always give more.”