In spite of Ireland's success on the field in the recent quadrangular tournament - and don't forget the team also retained the Inter-Continental Cup, proving they are the best Associate at four-day cricket - the spectators in Northern Ireland have been conspicuous by their absence. Stormont was given six matches this season - compared to Clontarf's four - and although one Belfast game was abandoned without a ball bowled, the aggregate attendance was more than five to one in Dublin's favour.

It is a situation which has already been discussed at ICU level and the question has been asked: Does the Northern Ireland cricketing public deserve the big games?

The biggest disappointment was the first game of the season, against Kent, the squad's return home from their World Cup campaign. There were barely 500 in the ground.

It was still twice as many for the games against the Netherlands and Scotland and although a £35 admission price for ODIs against India and South Africa last month was, undoubtedly a major contributing factor, to have a crowd in the low hundreds for games against the second and fourth best teams in the world was an embarrassment.

Compare all that to Dublin which attracted 1,700 for the game against Middlesex (albeit with the Ireland internationals Ed Joyce and Eoin Morgan in the opposition) and 2,400 for the game against West Indies.

As an ICU official, with a strong allegiance to Northern Ireland said on Sunday: 'The cricket public in Northern Ireland have voted with their feet and with the southern sports council sponsoring us to the tune of 350,000 euros they are quite legitimately asking why the big games are continually being given to Stormont. If the games started to go south again, the Northern Ireland supporters wouldn't have a leg to stand on.

'Stormont can accommodate twice as many people but there is no point having a capacity of 6,000-plus if only 250 turn up. Better having a 3,000 capacity and bringing in 2,500. The question has to be asked: 'Do the Northern Ireland cricket public want to watch international cricket.' On this summer's evidence, the answer would appear to be a resounding ‘no'.