With test match crowds dwindling, Gillespie believes the time is right for the International Cricket Council (ICC) to get Ireland and their fan club, the ‘Blarney Army’ on board.
“Let’s face it, outside of Australia and England — and to a lesser extent South Africa — people don’t turn up to watch test cricket. That’s just the way it is. And it’s sad,” Gillespie, now coach of English county Yorkshire, told All Out Cricket.
“One fantastic way to give test cricket a lift straight away would be to give Ireland full test status.
“It’s something that should happen sooner rather than later from the ICC. Imagine if Ireland were given test status: that would be huge news in world cricket, and it would be a massively positive story for the world game.
“The ICC and all the national boards talk a lot about the importance of protecting the integrity of test cricket. If it is that important, then we should look to improve it, and in my view including Ireland would improve it.”
Ireland are established in one-day internationals and are preparing for next year’s World Cup where they are in a pool including West Indies, Pakistan, India and fellow outsiders United Arab Emirates.
At the 2011 World Cup in India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, Ireland pulled off a stunning pool victory over England and also beat the Netherlands.
Irish players have graced English first class cricket and left-handed batsman Eoin Morgan is a current member of the England test squad. Ed Joyce also played for England but has now switched allegiance to Ireland.
“Think of the list of names who’ve plied their trade in English domestic cricket and who have even played for England: it would make a decent Test side,” Gillespie said.