There a few reasons why Ireland have had such a disappointing time playing test cricket in the sub-continent - where conditions are the opposite to those in Ireland.  

However, that is minor compared to a number of major reasons. The final test, against Sri Lanka, saw two bowlers who learned their cricket in South Africa. They are also not what you could call opening bowlers.  Two spinners, Ben White and Matthew Humphreys had never played first class cricket. The 704 runs for 3 wickets scored by Sri Lanka were however not the fault of the selected bowlers.  

The fault is in a system where there is little chance of getting experience playing time cricket of any sort.  Apart from Josh Little, who was unavailable playing in the IPL, Irish cricket and its coaches have not produced bowlers of a sufficient standard in recent times.  There have been lots of runs scored and two very welcome performers in Harry Tector and Lorcan Tucker.  Paul Stirling has also had successful innings and there has been runs from all rounders Curtis Campher and Andy McBrine, who bowled his off breaks well on unresponsive wickets.

Becoming a test playing team a few years ago was welcomed, probably more for a financial reason than anything else and also to push Ireland into a position where the strongest sides would take more notice and fixtures would follow.  

However, the serious downside of this was that young Irish talent would not get the chance to play county cricket, which has plenty of time cricket, played at a higher level than the few time games in Ireland.  

The Irish sides of about a decade ago had most of their numbers playing county cricket.  It is possible to say that that situation was somewhat similar to football on a much smaller scale.  

The most promising footballers head off to play in English clubs.  Bowlers who have had regular places in recent years, with success, include Tim Murtagh, who played his cricket for Middlesex; Mark Adair, Warwickshire and Boyd Rankin, Derbyshire and Warwickshire. Imagine if Irish footballers couldn’t play in England.

The problem for the current Irish side is that close to 100% of their matches are either 50 or 20 over cricket.  You can win these games without taking wickets.  You cannot win in first class cricket without bowling the opposition out.  A bowler may well bowl well in overs cricket, accurately and maybe negatively, to a well-set field and force the batsmen to play poor shots and get out, often depending on good fielding and catching.  The same bowler might well be ineffective in first class cricket.

With some trepidation, as I was a bowler on the Irish side in the 1970s and 80s, I can't help but look at the Irish bowlers I played with - Alec O’Riordan, Dougie Goodwin, Simon Corlett, John Elder, Roy Torrens, Podge Hughes, Dermot Monteith - and make comparisons with today's equivalents.  

Only Dermot played in England but a move to become a poorly paid county cricketer was not attractive.  But these bowlers would all be walking onto Irish XIs today, despite being basically weekend amateur club cricketers.  

We were all introduced to the game in school. Underage cricket didn’t really exist in clubs, provincially or nationally. Coaching, apart from basics, didn’t really exist either. Yet those mentioned above were all fine bowlers.

When they started playing club cricket they bowled long spells.  The object was to get the opposition out and defensive batting was the norm.  When they progressed to the Irish team we played three or two day two innings cricket.  The occasional one-day match (not overs) was usually not a cap match. (The West Indies 25 all out was one of the exceptions!).  

Being a national side there were good fixtures against counties or sides playing tests in England. Lessons could be learnt even if there were usually only five or six games a year.  One of the lessons from these fixtures was the realisation that a good Irish player was not inferior to an English professional.  Beating a strong Sussex team in a 3 day match in 1977 was such a lesson.

There is also a coaching problem in clubs today.  

Too many clubs employ players to help them win games and some pros are poor coaches or are not expected to coach.  Good bowling coaches are also in short supply.  In order to produce some Irish bred bowlers a serious effort has to be made by the powers that be to single out teenagers to be given special attention.  

Whether Ireland can play more time cricket is another problem.  It probably is too expensive, but we became a test playing team a few years ago, surely we should be making a better effort to perform in that format?