The newly named Marsh Cup commences on September 21 amidst a wave of positive changes to the domestic cricket schedule.
Former Australia paceman and Roar expert Jason Gillespie has called for Ireland to be elevated to the Test cricket ranks.
The 39-year-old, now head coach of Yorkshire, believes the move would both reward Ireland’s performances in limited-overs internationals and provide a necessary boost to the five-day format.
“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,” Gillespie told All Out Cricket.
“That’s just the way it is, and it’s sad.
“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 reached the Super Eight stage of the 2007 World Cup, beating Pakistan and Bangladesh in addition to a memorable tie with England, and also qualified for the World Twenty20 in 2009 and 2010.
“Ireland are ticking all the boxes,” Gillespie added.
“They’ve punched well above their weight in limited-overs tournaments.
“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.
“I don’t see why it couldn’t happen. Eoin Morgan is obviously with England full-time now but, apart from him, you’ve got Ed Joyce (Sussex), William Porterfield, Boyd Rankin (both Warwickshire), George Dockrell (Somerset), Peter Chase (Durham).”
Surrey captain Gary Wilson, Middlesex opener Paul Stirling and brothers Niall and Kevin O’Brien are also among the Irish contingent to make their way in the county game.