Ireland are stepping up their bid to become a Test-playing nation by appointing professional coaches and administrators tot he three teams competing in the new Inter-Provincial domestic competition.
Leinster Lightning, Northern Knights and North West Warriors will play Twenty20, one-day and three-day games against one another and all three will be recruiting head coaches and administrators.
The initiative is part of a plan to reduce the current gap between international and domestic cricket in Ireland and for Test cricket to become even a strong possibility, a domestic structure that feeds into the national team is required by the International Cricket Council (ICC).
"There's been an incredible growth in Irish cricket over the past six years and I've no doubt that will continue as we strive to become a Test-playing team by 2020," Cricket Ireland Performance Director Richard Holdsworth said.
"These new positions will make a significant difference to the ability of Provincial Unions to train and prepare their new teams to a standard never before seen at this level.
"The Inter-Provincial series will I'm sure provide a perfect platform for competitive cricket and bridge the growing gap between club and international representative cricket. This new structure also provides an opportunity for our Provincial Unions to generate some valuable revenue to invest in their clubs and grassroots programmes.
"We're extremely grateful to ICC and the Targeted Assistance and Performance Programme (TAPP) funding which has made this possible. I'm certain it will help increase the player pool available to the national team, while at the same time increasing the standard of club cricket throughout Ireland."
Ireland are pushing for Full Membership of the ICC on the back of strong performances at both the 2007 and 2011 World Cup, as well as the 2009 ICC World Twenty20, where they progressed to the second stage.
In 2007, they beat Pakistan, tied with Zimbabwe and then beat Bangladesh while in the 2011 competition they pulled off a memorable three-wicket win over England as well as beating the Netherlands.
In the ICC Intercontinental Cup, international cricket's first-class competition for non Test-playing nations, Ireland are the most successful team with three wins to their name.
© Cricket World 2013
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