First class status for Irish cricket

The International Cricket Council has awarded first class status to domestic cricket in Ireland as the associate member moves closer to Test status.

The Hanley Energy Inter-Provincial Championship will be a first class competition from next season while the country's T20 and 50-over competitions have been elevated to List A status.

Ireland coach John Bracewell said: "First-class cricket is the vital link between part-time cricket and the full commitment of the international game.

"It is connected to your value in world cricket, historically. This to me is key for Irish-based players willing to make the sacrifices necessary to reach the standards required to compete at the pinnacle of our sport.

"Over the last two seasons watching domestic cricket in Ireland I have seen consistent performances from top quality cricketers who deserve to have these recognised. The standard of play is not only highly competitive but also first class in its output."

Cricket Ireland CEO Warren Deutrom was at the ICC meet in Cape Town where the decision was announced and highlighted the importance of the move for cricket on the Emerald Isle.

Deutrom commented: "It's important as firstly, it elevates the perception of the competition, and places the inter-pros statistically and status-wise at the same level of all first-class cricket around the world in established Test nations.

"At the moment, the matches, while hard-fought, are no more than friendlies, so even monumental performances such as Nick Larkin's 247 not out and Adam Dennison's 206 [both for the Northern Knights] count for nothing in the game's statistical records.

"Bestowing first-class status places these achievements in the game's official records and allows players to start accumulating career statistics, and puts them in the shop-window for opportunities overseas. These same opportunities can also now apply to the officials standing in these matches."

Irish domestic cricket as it stands is made up of three provincial sides, Northern Knights, North West Warriors and Leinster Lightning.

 David Richardson, the ICC chief executive, said: "Cricket Ireland's Inter-Provincial Championship is well structured and provides a clear pathway for players from under-age through to inter-provincial to the national team.

"The Championship is professionally run, played mainly in international standard venues and some games are live streamed and I'd like to commend Cricket Ireland on the work they have done to achieve first class domestic status."