The always has been a difference between professionals and amateurs but it is set to become even more pronounced in the Ireland cricket squad.

Last Monday in Southampton, after Ireland's Friends Provident game against Hampshire, National Coach Phil Simmons told me that players would not be allowed to play for their clubs the day before an international. Yesterday, while all the Ireland-based players prepared in Dublin for today's game against Essex, Nantie Hayward was playing for Slough in the Middlesex League and Jesse Ryder was in the New Brighton team in the Liverpool League. Both will fly into Dublin this morning.

It's little wonder Simmons has insisted on 13 players turning up for all games; he will need cover for his overseas professionals.

His explanation for the late arrival of the outside help also goes some way to explaining the predicament which the Irish Cricket Union finds itself in, in spite of their extended stay at the World Cup finals.

'We can't afford to insist on Hayward and Ryder reporting on a Saturday because they have club commitments, which they are getting paid for. The ICU cannot afford to buy them out of their club contracts so they will have to play club cricket and hopefully there will no problem with the flight connections,' said Simmons.

'The players are also playing a high standard. The two leagues they are in will give them good match practice ahead of the Ireland games. When I signed them I knew about the club commitments but I believe they can do both jobs and I believe they will do well for Ireland.'

It was, ultimately, money that prevented Simmons getting a second high profile professional. Sanath Jayasuriya, Sri Lanka's opener in the World Cup final, Jacques Kallis and Shaun Pollock who both helped South Africa reach the semi finals, were all mentioned as possible signings, but none would have been available even for today's game and Simmons, having been without any professional for the first game and one down for the next two, came under increasing pressure to get an extra professional body on to the field.

Whether it was right to take Ryder for six matches rather than wait and get a bigger name for the last four - there is a two-week break after today's game, only time will tell but unless Ireland can pick up two wins from their remaining five games, their FP programme must be considered a failure. Last year, Ireland beat Gloucestershire on their home ground in Bristol with overseas star Shahid Afridi playing a starring role. It was their only win but, at least it was a win. Success this year is as far away as ever after Thursday's revenge victory by the western county. And it was wasn't just a victory, it was a slaughter, with Ireland rolled over for 63, their lowest total in the competition since 1997.

Four matches in and Ireland know they will be without five of their World Cup squad for the rest of the competition, they know Hayward is a wicket-taking but expensive fast bowler and, well, they don't know much at all about Ryder. Simmons hadn't seen him before signing him and, like Ryder's new team-mates, will be hoping that his disastrous debut with bat and bowl can be put down to first night nerves.

If it wasn't then questions will start to be asked, including: 'Why did we have to go to Liverpool for a professional (albeit one who apparently was in the running for New Zealand's World Cup squad) when there are some in Ireland who would do just as good a job. For a lot less money and who would turn up for Saturday practice!