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Ireland up the ante for Test match status

THE clamour for Ireland to join the elite of Test-playing nations after Thursday's thrilling tie with Pakistan will became a din should Phil Simmons' team go one run better and win tomorrow's second ODI at Clontarf and claim the RSA Series.

As the celebrations began at Castle Avenue after Kevin O'Brien had levelled the scores with a boundary from the last ball, fans were openly questioning why a team that can stand toe-to-toe with the fifth best side in the world could be denied Test match status?

The simple fact is that the International Cricket Council that runs the game is not a meritocracy and is one of the most politically riven governing bodies in world sport. Ten nations are full members of the ICC, which comes with Test match status and a huge annual pay-out. The next tier, of which Ireland are far and away the best, are paupers in comparison.

Cricket Ireland are making all the right moves off the field as they lobby to join the top table – including full-time playing contracts and the introduction of the RSA InterProvincial Series – but performances against the world's elite are what really catch the eye.

Meanwhile, Clontarf get their first chance to prove they deserve to be back in the top flight when they start the defence of the RSA Senior Cup with a home game against Phoenix today.

Division 1 league champions just four years ago, the year they also completed a hat-trick of Senior Cup wins, Clontarf were relegated for the first time in 10 years last season but, with four wins out of four at the start of the league season, they are in pole position to make an immediate return.

The cup holders will start favourites today against a Phoenix side which has lost all three games in Division 1.

Irish Independent