7:53 PM IST
Ireland will stage their four-match T20I series against Bangladesh in England, with The Oval, Chelmsford, Bristol and Edgbaston staging one fixture each.
Extensive renovations to their ground in Clontarf, combined with an unusually busy international schedule, left Ireland with only 12 ICC-standard pitches available across Malahide, Stormont and Bready.
Warren Deutrom, Cricket Ireland’s chief executive, had hinted at the possibility of staging the series at neutral venues in December, and Richard Holdsworth, the performance director, visited several counties to discuss options earlier in the year.
“We greatly appreciate the support of the ECB and each of the venues involved in hosting this series,” Deutrom said in a press release. “This will be a great set of fixtures being played in some of England’s finest and most atmospheric grounds.
“2020 is one of Ireland’s biggest home seasons with three major nations touring and 15 matches to host. Consequently, it has been our most complex match allocation process ever, given the multiple challenges we are working through. Chief among these is the loss of access to one of our four international grounds for probably two seasons, with Clontarf undergoing extensive renovations.
“Irish fans will have 11 top-class international matches to enjoy at home – including opportunities to watch the world’s number one T20 side and the World Cup runners-up. The two One-Day Internationals we played in England in 2017, and the overwhelming response to the Lord’s Test last year, shows that there is a great interest in Irish cricket in the United Kingdom, so we will be expecting plenty of green in the stands.”
“Our thanks also to the Bangladesh Cricket Board for their agreement to support this initiative, and we look forward to a great series.”
This will be the first time that Ireland have hosted a series at a neutral venue, and the first neutral internationals between full-member nations on English soil since Pakistan played an ODI, two Tests and two T20Is against Australia in 2010.
Bangladesh fans have fond memories of two of the grounds being used. Their team secured a first-ever victory over England at Bristol in 2010, and were involved in two close games at The Oval in last summer’s World Cup – a win against South Africa and a narrow defeat to New Zealand.
Bangladesh also featured in one of the three ODIs to have been staged at the County Ground in Chelmsford, a six-wicket defeat against New Zealand during the 1999 World Cup. All three of Chelmsford’s ODIs came during World Cups, starting with a one-off fixture between India and Australia in 1983, and most recently Zimbabwe’s win over South Africa in 1999.
More than half a million Bangladeshis live in the UK, the majority of whom live in London. There is also a large Bangladeshi population in the Midlands.
“We are passionate about helping to protect and grow the game across the world and we are delighted to be able to support Cricket Ireland by hosting this series,” said Tom Harrison, the ECB’s chief executive. “We can’t wait to welcome both Ireland and Bangladesh as part of what promises to be an incredibly exciting summer of cricket.
“We saw at first hand the passion and joy both Irish and Bangladeshi fans brought to our venues last year and I’m sure both sets of supporters will enjoy some high quality cricket at all four grounds.”
Ireland vs Bangladesh, fixtures:
May 14 – 1st ODI, Stormont
May 16 – 2nd ODI, Stormont
May 19 – 3rd ODI, Stormont
May 22 – 1st T20I, The Oval
May 24 – 2nd T20I, Chelmsford
May 27 – 3rd T20I, Bristol
May 29 – 4th T20I, Edgbaston
March 9, 1430 GMT – This story was updated to include quotes from Warren Deutrom and Tom Harrison