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The ‘Emerald Challenge’ launched

Fixture to showcase the best Irish red-ball talent as domestic First-Class cricket returns
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DUBLIN – Domestic first-class cricket will return to Ireland for the first time since 2019 when the Strikers and Raiders battle it out over four days in the “Emerald Challenge”.

First-class, multi-day cricket was put on hold during the COVID pandemic but will make its long-anticipated return next week in a best v best contest that brings together the top 26 players in red-ball cricket in Ireland.

The match will be played at Malahide Cricket Club between 8-11 July 2024, starting at 11am daily. Livescoring will be available through the Cricket Ireland website.

THE SQUADS

STRIKERS

  • Andrew Balbirnie (c) (Pembroke), Curtis Campher (Clontarf), Gareth Delany (Leinster), George Dockrell (Phoenix), Stephen Doheny (Merrion), Matthew Foster (CSNI), Mike Frost (Malahide), Fionn Hand (Clontarf), Josh Manley (Lisburn), Andy McBrine (Donemana), Barry McCarthy (Pembroke), Neil Rock (Instonians), Paul Stirling.

RAIDERS

  • Lorcan Tucker (c) (Pembroke), Cade Carmichael (Instonians), Chris DeFreitas (Balbriggan), Gavin Hoey (Pembroke), Graham Hume (Waringstown), Matthew Humphreys (Lisburn), Liam McCarthy (Railway Union), James McCollum (Waringstown), PJ Moor (Clontarf), Cian Robertson (Instonians), Harry Tector (Pembroke), Morgan Topping (Waringstown), Craig Young (North Down).

Richard Holdsworth, High Performance Director, said:

“We are delighted to see the phased return of domestic first-class cricket to Ireland. While long-awaited, the return will see a new best v best format to be known as the ‘Emerald Challenge’. This new quasi-franchise approach to red-ball cricket allows us to bring together the best Irish talent in red-ball cricket in a competitive fixture as part of focussed preparations for the historic Belfast Test Match later this month.

“Our priority at the international level in recent years has been on white-ball formats given the four-year block of white-ball world cups – however, we are, and will be, playing Test cricket and we need to ensure we can prepare for those occasions within our means.

“The Ireland Wolves programme and the introduction of the Emerging Ireland concept have the potential to provide valuable red-ball developmental fixtures for current and future Test cricketers. For now, our intention is to hold the Emerald Challenge during an initial period while we review and develop a fit-for-purpose domestic first-class structure that develops a ready-made pipeline of Test cricketers to the Ireland Men’s Test squad, is financially viable and is in-line with Provincial Union objectives.

“We hope Irish fans will embrace the return of domestic First-Class cricket through the Emerald Challenge and show their support of Test cricket by joining us in Belfast for the history-making Test Match against Zimbabwe in late July.”

key points
  • The “Emerald Challenge” is the new interim domestic first-class fixture
  • New franchise-style teams – Raiders and Strikers
  • Andrew Balbirnie and Lorcan Tucker to captain the squads

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