Windies great Holding says give Ireland Test status now

Ireland's Andrew McBrine bowling during their World Cup win over the West Indies. Picture by Chris Symes/INPHO
Ireland's Andrew McBrine bowling during their World Cup win over the West Indies. Picture by Chris Symes/INPHO

West Indies legend Michael Holding says the International Cricket Council should grant Ireland Test status immediately to prevent rising stars like Donemana’s Andy McBrine from having to switch their allegiance to England.

Holding is fearful that other Ireland players will follow the example of Bready’s Boyd Rankin and Dubliner Eoin Morgan who have previously gone to England to further Test and One Day International ambitions.

“Ireland need to be recognised now,” said Holding following Ireland’s World Cup win over the West Indies.

“It’s about time. Otherwise they’ll keep losing cricketers.”

The ICC has opened the door to Ireland achieving Test status in 2018 when the winners of the 2017 Intercontinental Cup - featuring the top non-Test sides - will play four five-days matches against the lowest-ranked Test team with the victors earning or retaining Test status.

Ireland have won four of the last five Intercontinental Cup tournaments but Holding fears this pathway will prove too slow for the Irish.

“If Ireland continue to linger around the lower regions of world cricket they’ll continue to lose good cricketers,” added the legendary West Indies bowler.

“Morgan left Ireland to play for England because he saw brighter prospects. England are a Test playing nation and are a world-renowned team.”

Following their win over the West Indies in Nelson, Holding believes Ireland will qualify for the quarter-finals of the tournament in Australia and New Zealand.

The Irish will be expected to defeat the United Arab Emirates in Brisbane next Tuesday and one further victory in their games against South Africa, Zimbabwe, India and Pakistan would probably to enough to secure a last-eight berth.

“I should certainly think they’ll qualify.

“I think they’ll beat Zimbabwe and they have an outstanding chance of going on to the quarter-finals,” said Holding.

Former Australia captain Ricky Ponting has argued Ireland should not be a feeder nation for England.

“I’m very sympathetic to countries like Ireland that could keep losing their best players,” he said. “It’s something that shouldn’t happen.

“If the ICC look at that and are serious about Ireland continuing to grow and maybe one day being a Test-playing nation then they can’t afford to have their better players going off at a young age.”

Ed Joyce, one of Ireland’s heroes in Monday’s win over the West Indies, also switched allegiance from Ireland to England before going back to represent his native country.

Ireland chased 305 to beat the West Indies by four wickets with 25 balls remaining in their opening Pool B match in Nelson, New Zealand.