Ireland to make Test debut vs. Pakistan

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DUBLIN — Ireland will play its first ever Test match against Pakistan on home soil next May, the country’s cricket chiefs announced Thursday.

Afghanistan and Ireland became full members of the International Cricket Council (ICC) in June, taking the number of countries who play the five-day format of the game from 10 to 12.

Since then Cricket Ireland has been looking for the right opponent for the historic first match.

“We are excited to welcome Pakistan to Ireland for our inaugural Test match next year,” said Cricket Ireland chief executive Warren Deutrom.

“It has been our wish to make our Test debut in front of our own fans within 12 months of becoming a Test nation, and against a big team, so I’m delighted.”

Pakistan is currently seventh in the Test rankings but were top of the pile as recently as last year.

“There is a lot of work to do from now to ensure that it will be an occasion to remember but we, and I’m sure our players and fans, can’t wait to rise to it,” Deutrom added.

Irish captain William Porterfield welcomed confirmation of the match, saying: “It’s fantastic news for Irish cricket. It’s going to be a bit special and it’s always great to be a part of history.

“There’s a special affinity between ourselves and Pakistan going back to the 2007 World Cup and they’ve been regular tourists here over the past decade.

“Test cricket is the pinnacle of our sport and I know how much this game will mean to not only the players but all involved with Irish cricket. It’ll be another step on what has been an incredible journey for our sport in a relatively short passage of time.”

The exact date and venue for the match — agreed during an ICC meeting in Auckland, New Zealand, this week — have yet to be confirmed.

Cricket has been played in Ireland for nearly 200 years but it was not until 1969 that it made the rest of the world game take true notice when it bowled out the West Indies for just 25 at Sion Mills in a televised match.

Ireland has since established itself during the course of several World Cups, recording One-Day International wins over Pakistan, the West Indies and England.

Afghanistan and Ireland joined an exclusive club that also includes Australia, England, South Africa, New Zealand, the West Indies, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Zimbabwe.

Nehra retires

Indian fast bowler Ashish Nehra Thursday announced his retirement from international cricket and the Indian Premier League Thursday after an injury-plagued career.

Nehra, 38, who is part of India’s Twenty20 squad in the ongoing series against Australia, will bow out after the first T20 against New Zealand on Nov. 1 at his home ground in New Delhi.

Nehra, who has suffered a series of injury problems and last played for India in February, said he wanted to go out on top and in front of his home fans.

“It is always good to retire when people are asking why, rather than why not,” he told reporters in Hyderabad ahead of the third T20 against Australia Friday.

“I have spoken to the team management as well as the chairman of selection committee. It can’t get bigger than getting to retire in front of your home fans where I played my first Ranji Trophy game 20 years ago,” he added.

India will host New Zealand for three One-Day Internationals and three T20 matches starting Oct. 22.

The left-arm quick has collected 157 ODI wickets plus 44 Test and 34 T20 scalps during his 18-year career, since making his debut in the five-day format in 1999.

The Delhi native was a vital part of India’s 2003 World Cup campaign in South Africa, where the team ended up as runners-up to Australia.

He is best remembered for his figures of 6-23 against England at Durban during the 50-over tournament. Nehra was also a part of the 2011 World Cup-winning squad.

England can’t win without

Stokes, says Waugh

Test great Steve Waugh says England can’t win the Ashes without Ben Stokes and the bad boy all-rounder would have been dumped immediately if he was Australian.

England vice captain Stokes was arrested last month in Britain on suspicion of causing actual bodily harm and suspended from internationals until further notice following an apparent fight outside a nightclub.

He was included in its Ashes squad but the England and Wales Cricket Board last week said he would not travel with the rest of the players when they leave on Oct. 28.

No final decision on his involvement has been made.

Former Australian captain Waugh, at the helm in 57 Tests for 41 victories, said England will not be the same threat without Stokes.

“If he doesn’t come, I don’t think they can win the Ashes,” Waugh told Sky Sports Radio late Tuesday.

While Stokes is yet to be charged, he remains under investigation, and Waugh hit out at England’s failure to immediately drop him from the Ashes squad.

“I think if it were anyone in the Australian side, they wouldn’t be picked. You can’t do that these days in public. It just didn’t look good and it’s a bad image for the game,” he said.

“I think they (England selectors) are pretty keen for him to play in Australia... he’s probably their best player, so it would be a real shame if he’s not out here.”

Stokes’ absence from the five-Test tour, starting in Brisbane on Nov. 23, would be a huge blow for Ashes holder England, which has lost two out of its past three tours Down Under 5-0.

He is an explosive middle-order batsman and a dangerous right-arm fast medium bowler, and not being in Australia will pile more pressure on the likes of the experienced Stuart Broad and Jimmy Anderson.

“Without Ben Stokes, we’ll win,” said Waugh.

“It’s too much pressure on Broad and Anderson, and they’re getting a bit older, and I can’t see them playing five Test matches straight.

“I think Australia will win 3-1.” — Agencies


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