The Board of Cricket Ireland shied away from cancelling this summer’s proposed Test match against Zimbabwe in Belfast at their meeting on Tuesday but will re-visit the thorny issue next month.

CI chairman Brian MacNeice is at pains to stress that a number of cost cutting options are under consideration but he must be acutely aware of the PR ramifications of axing what would be the first Test to be hosted in the north 

The match against Zimbabwe was pencilled into the summer schedule for the end of July when CI were still expecting to get USD 17.5m this year of the USD 70m they have been granted by the International Cricket Council for the 2024-7 TV rights cycle.

Instead, MacNeice explained, the ICC are withholding a chunk of cash to smooth out any potential dip in the value of the next rights cycle from 2028-31, and savings have to be made.

With CI already spending more money on the A-team ‘Wolves’ program, women’s cricket and developing the grassroots game, cutting the Test was a soft target - but also a PR disaster - and the feeling is it may now be saved.

“Our commitment to grassroots and pathway structures, means we have had some hard choices regarding the hosting of international cricket – most notably, the proposed series against Australia Men which has been moved out of 2024 window,” MacNeice said.

More savings could be made by trimming one of the two white-ball series against Zimbabwe that follow the Test, and cancelling the proposed hosting of South Africa in Abu Dhabi in September.

In terms of taking the game to a wide audience, a Test match in Belfast is sure to reach many, many times more supporters than a meaningless couple of series in the UAE, where fewer than 30 Ireland fans watched the recent games against Afghanistan.

What was confirmed at Tuesday’s board meeting is that a three-match T20 international series against Pakistan will go ahead at Clontarf on May 10, 12 and 14, with tickets on sale from today.