Domestic cricket in Ireland has had First Class, List A and T20 status since the start of 2017 but only has three teams. They are: Leinster Lightning, Northern Knights and North West Warriors. There are two other cricket unions in Ireland (Connaught and Munster) but they aren’t qualified to compete at official level. They need helping to do so because with five teams Irish cricket would have more value. With three teams it’s… sorry but a little bit of a joke!
If there were five teams and we first suggest applying a straight forward home and away league structure in each format of the game then that’s eight First Class matches, Eight List As and Eight T20s. You could possibly add a final to each or at least the limited overs tournaments. That volume of games wouldn’t be too much or too little and should help breed competitive cricket that is better preparation for international and particularly Test level for the players. To aid with the development of the game, each side could be allowed to sign an English county pro, maybe one sick of the long slog of the English season as well as a loan or two of younger players during the course of the campaign. It’d be great for an English county second-teamer to get some game time in Ireland to push for a place in their county first XI and bring some experience of professionalism to Ireland. That’s not meant as a slight on the Irish, just that the experience of having being groomed in a professional county environment could be passed onto the players in Ireland. Building those relationships may also contribute to Irish players getting signed up by English county sides or other teams around the globe as a result of their connections gained.
Repeating the notion that three teams isn’t enough, quite simply it just doesn’t breed competitiveness. The other recent addition to Test cricket, Afghanistan, have a far greater number of teams but also a much larger population. Some amy argue that the fourteen or sixteen matches a season per format in the English County Championship is too much and the the six state structure of Australia is more ideal. Actually, New Zealand, a country that has an almost identical population as Ireland (Around 4.7 million) also has six domestic teams and provides an excellent example for Irish cricket. Said number of teams equates to enough matches to identify the superior team and allow players to find form but not too many so as to alleviate the risk to injury and general wear and tear of, in particular, fast bowlers.
Zimbabwe’s domestic cricket has been a disaster in recent times but hopefully Ireland’s can continue to grow, provide a competitive competition (Isn’t that the least you’d expect in a competition?) and furnish the national side with quality.