Irelands historic first test match against Pakistan failed to see them pull off the fairy tale victory in the end but proved a fine Test match for their first ever 5-day game. The game saw some excellent periods of play for the hosts. The first ever Test match century in an Ireland shirt, a sterling come back and Pakistan momentarily on the ropes on day 5 chasing down Irelands 160. All in all, a very good advert for Test cricket in the Emerald Isle.
The sight of the emotion for the first ever Irish players to receive their Test match caps on the eve of the game and the excellent atmosphere of all present to watch the start of Irelands test journey was a much-needed boost for cricket’s minnow nations. It comes on the back of a bitter sweet 2018 world cup qualifying competition for two spots in next years world cup in England.
The tournament was held in Zimbabwe and quite often matches allowed a free entry creating full houses and amazing atmospheres for the games to be played, which added massively to drama of the games. The inclusion of full test nations of the West Indies and Afghanistan added a real barometer of where the associate nations were in terms of quality and showed that the next tier down from the Test playing sides were in very good health and playing very competitive cricket and of a potentially exciting future where at least a couple of countries could make real strides to competing against the established teams.
With all the positives taken from this tournament is was therefore an utter disaster from a development point of view that only two spots were available for admission to the world cup, taken by both Test playing sides West Indies and Afghanistan and the first time a world cup will be taking place without an associate member side in it, at a time when the developing cricketing nations has never been stronger. It was an opinion shared by all captains at the qualifying tournament as well as the cricket media in general who watched the tournament and were left shaking their heads at the loss of such an opportunity missed to blood these teams and players at next years competition.
Irelands successful and hard fought first test against Pakistan was a welcome reminder of the need to build, encourage and develop the non-test playing nations and to expand and develop the game as far and wide as possible.
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