Top-table seat a dream come true but Test status not the holy grail for Ireland | Ali Martin

Although the green light to become a Test-playing nation is expected in June the priority for ambitious Ireland is to make cricket a major sport at home

In recent years the prospect of playing Test cricket has inched from the grasp of Ireland like the grapes hanging over Tantalus but this year the dream looks set to become a reality. The two-match one?day series in England that begins on Friday is both a historic first visit and perhaps the last time the men in green will be seen here in their current guise.

Associate members of the International Cricket Council since 1993 and given one?day status in 2006, Ireland are buoyed by the news that came out of the board meeting of the governing body in Dubai last week. Subject to approval in June, the path will be cleared for them, and most likely Afghanistan, to apply for Test status and begin a new era at the top table.

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