It’s the biggest day in the history of Cricket in Ireland as William Porterfield leads his team into being only the tenth ever country to play full Test cricket at Malahide this morning.
The stands have risen from the parkland around Malahide Castle and the game will be watched by millions around the world. We stole out to Malahide yesterday to catch a glimpse of how the final preparations were being applied and could sense the excitement and anticipation as the Pakistan team went through their final practice.
There will be 6,400 fans there today to witness history, hoping for the weather gods to smile but Denis Cousins, Commercial Director with Cricket Ireland is a half glass full sort of a guy and he pointed out that while the weather apps may show rain that Malahide can have a little microclimate all of its own.
We walked the ground with Cousins and Arun Kumar from ITW Consulting who will be responsible for the TV production being shown live on Sky and across the world, as well as in a highlights programme on RTÉ each of the next five evenings.
This is Kumar’s first time in Ireland but he has already fallen in love with it. “We have been made so welcome and this is a wonderful setting to stage Test cricket,” he said.
ITW has quickly become one of the biggest producers of televised cricket and both sides believe this is the start of something that will be a long-lasting partnership.
“We will be here again in a few weeks for the two international matches against India and they will be seen by tens if not hundreds of millions of viewers.”
Irish cricketers like Kevin and Niall O’Brien and Ed Joyce and the many more who have played top class cricket are well known across India and Pakistan and there will be genuine interest in Ireland as the newest member of the top flight in cricket.
“We are really looking forward to bringing this historic occasion to life,” said Kumar. “We have a team over here and will be using specialists in the sport to capture the action as well as local expertise to bring it to the world.”
“Cricket Ireland have been so friendly and accommodating and we have really fallen for Ireland from the atmosphere of Gibney’s pub in Malahide Village to watching young boys playing hurling around the park. I had never seen it but it looks like a wonderful game and not a million miles away from the skills of cricket.”
ITW has sold the overall broadcast sponsorship of the Test match internationally and brands such as J. who make traditional Pakistani clothes and Brighto Paints, the regions biggest decorating brand, will feature around the ground. There are international brands such as Gillette as well and Ireland’s main sponsor Turkish Airlines will be very visible.
“Turkish Airlines will be giving away a pair of Business Class flights to anywhere in the world to one lucky fan at Malahide today,” said Dennis Cousins. “Irish Cricket features in the latest in-flight magazine on their fleet around the world and their support has been very welcome as we have prepared for this next stage in Irish cricket’s development.
There can only be one first and while no country has won its first test match since Australia beat England 141 years ago, there is always a glimmer of hope.
This will be a long journey to a destination those who have gone before could only ever have dreamed of. It starts today. It will be exciting to be part of a match that may be talked about itself 140 years into the future.
Image Credit: Inpho Photography