‘We are almost begging for fixtures’, says Ed Joyce

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Joyce is desperate to play more matches against top-ranked sides

Ireland batsman Ed Joyce has revealed that the national team are “almost begging for fixtures” as they seek to gain more experience playing against some of the top sides in the cricketing world.

While Joyce has taken the pleading approach, veteran Ireland all-rounder Trent Johnston is not afraid to let his comments be heard, as he stated that many of the top teams are “scared” of losing against Ireland.

Joyce added that Ireland were literally living off the “crumbs” of international tours and all the players are “begging” for an opportunity to play an actual series against one of the top-ranked Test nations.

“We are still in the situation where we are almost begging for fixtures, which is obviously not ideal because we feel as a competitive side we have gone past that,” Joyce told ESPNcricinfo. “It is frustrating that we aren’t getting more fixtures but I wouldn’t want to point fingers. We are simultaneously grateful for teams coming to play against us, but slightly frustrated that more teams don’t. We still live off the crumbs of the teams touring England and that’s the way it always has been.

“I realise why the big teams play each other a lot, there are huge financial incentives which they perhaps don’t see with us, so it’s about us getting in a position where we can be involved in the ‘club’, so to speak, and then hopefully other teams like Scotland, Netherlands, Afghanistan can do the same thing because there are a lot of good cricketer outside of the Test playing nations.”

Joyce also noted that Ireland recently gave Pakistan a run for their money during an ODI match, which ended as a draw, showing that the Emerald Isle nation have significantly improved.

“The two games against Pakistan showed that we have made great strides,” Joyce said. “Who would have said four or five years ago that we’d be disappointed not to have beaten Pakistan?”

“We were hopeful of getting Bangladesh over for some matches but they have pulled out of that for various reasons. It is frustrating but we realise where we are.

“We need to be playing as many of the big sides as we can, but we understand that it is very difficult for them to fit us into an already packed schedule, which we are trying to get around by getting into the FTP in years to come.

“The game against England has a dual purpose – to keep showing how we have improved and also if we play well it will create interest in the game. When Ireland beat England at the last World Cup and Pakistan the one before, there was a huge uptake in membership at clubs. I think there is now a club in every county in Ireland – all 32 – which certainl hasn’t been the case for many years.”

Ireland recently lost Boyd Rankin to England as the lanky pace bowler represented them in a Twenty20 International against New Zealand.

Rankin’s qualifying period to move from Ireland to England only took two years, thanks to a tweak in the International Cricket Council (ICC) regulations, while Joyce had to wait four years to move from England to Ireland.

“I think it’s a fairer rule, because there’s no real option for the likes of Boyd,” Joyce said. “I would like to think Boyd and Eoin Morgan’s generation will be the last who feel they have to make that decision so they can play at the highest level. Boyd is desperate to play Test cricket, and fair play to him, we wish him well.

“Now the likes of George Dockrell, Paul Stirling, Stuart Thompson and James Shannon, they have more of a chance to play at a higher level with Ireland. But until we get to a stage where we are regularly playing against top nations – and that will only happen when we attain some higher membership status, either Test status or increased ODI status – I think you might have the odd player who feels they have to make that move to further their own ambitions.

“Hopefully the ICC will see that Ireland are improving and are fulfilling all the criteria they want of us to play more teams. The only thing we can do is put in performances against top sides to show what we can do and hope the powers that be listen to our raving and ranting.”

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