Ireland cricket team to play Australia ‘A’ in June in Belfast
IRELAND could provide a boost to Australia's Ashes preparations after agreeing to host their second-string side this summer.
Cricket Ireland (CI) announced today they will meet Australia 'A' in a four-day game at Stormont in Belfast from June 14.
That will give the players on the fringes of Australia's Test team the chance to acclimatise to British conditions, with the Ashes due to begin at Trent Bridge on July 10.
CI also announced that Belfast would play host to their final two World Cup qualifiers against Scotland on September 6 and 8.
Ireland currently lead the qualifiers, after four of seven rounds, with Scotland second.
The top-two nations earn direct qualification for the 2015 World Cup.
Those matches will finalise a busy summer for Ireland, who host Pakistan in Dublin in a two-match one-day international series in May before a one-off game against England in September.
CI revealed they are also in discussion to bring Bangladesh back following their tour last year.
"It's another incredibly important year for Irish cricket as we attempt to make it to the World Cup finals and also defend our ICC World Twenty20 qualifiers trophy in November," coach Phil Simmons said.
"We've been to the final stages of five world tournaments and we want to make it seven.
"It's fantastic that we've got the high-profile matches on home soil against Pakistan and England and we hope to get another series against Bangladesh in August as well."