England to play Ireland in two-match ODI series
Published 23/06/2016 | 13:51
England will host Ireland for the first time in a two-match one-day international series next year as part of their build-up for the ICC Champions Trophy.
Ireland have played five ODIs against their neighbours on home soil and two at global tournaments abroad, including the minnows' historic 2011 World Cup win in India.
But they will break new ground after the England and Wales Cricket Board and Cricket Ireland announced the two nations will play at Bristol on Friday, May 5 before another fixture at Lord's two days later.
ECB chief executive officer Tom Harrison said: "This series will represent a historic stepping stone in the development of Irish cricket and give further impetus to the growth of the game in Ireland as a whole.
"There's always been a friendly local rivalry between Ireland and England on the sporting field and this is a great opportunity for cricket matches between the two countries to enjoy even greater status and profile."
England travelled to Belfast 10 years ago for the first competitive meeting between the two teams, with Marcus Trescothick's century helping them to a 38-run win.
Ireland have arguably been the most impressive of the associate nations since then, reaching the Super Eight stage of the 2007 World Cup while only net run-rate prevented them from qualifying for the knock-out rounds of last year's tournament.
ECB director of England cricket Andrew Strauss, who captained England in their inaugural match against Ireland, added: "We've been hugely impressed by the major strides Irish cricket has made in the last decade.
"Ireland's past performances in ICC Cricket World Cups have shown just how competitive they can be in the 50-over format; they will definitely provide our one-squad with a tough test ahead of next summer's ICC Champions Trophy."
England have won five of their seven 50-over matches against Ireland, with their last meeting in May 2015 rained off after only 18 overs.
Ireland have made no secret of their desire to play regularly against the top-tier nations and recently hosted Sri Lanka, losing both ODIs, while they will welcome Pakistan later this year.
Fixtures against South Africa and Australia will follow in Benoni in September while they will also compete against Bangladesh and New Zealand in an ODI tri-series next year.
Ireland captain William Porterfield said: "It's absolutely massive for us to have the opportunity to play against England in a series. What makes it extra special is the fact that one of the games is at Lord's - where every cricketer dreams of playing.
"I'm certain we'll have a lot of support there from both the Irish living in London and travelling over from Ireland. There'll be a great atmosphere and it will be one which the team will relish playing in front of."
England wicketkeeper-batsman Jos Buttler added: "It's a great boost for them, and I think they've probably wanted that recognition for a while.
"They will be two great games.
"With a lot of guys knowing the Irish players through county cricket, it will have a good edge to it - with some good bragging rights."