Never has the issue of youth development, across all sports, been so vehemently debated. The enduring plight of the national football team, and indeed league, has prompted many quarters to question the current system and the way in which we go about nurturing the next generation.

As the national team continue to flounder in the footballing doldrums, and show no sign of stumbling across a solution, unlike Englandís ODI side who have enjoyed a scarcely believable renaissance, serious questions have to be asked about how we operate at grass roots level.

This month marks 25 years since Italia 90. Since then, the supply line has dried up and thereís little evidence to suggest itís ready to begin churning out players of international calibre again. That a handful, if even that, of Martin OíNeillís squad will be playing Premier League football next season tells its own story.

And cricket, albeit in different circumstances, faces a similar problem. Not that the coaching methods are wrong or the current youth set-ups, at either club or interprovincial level, are ineffectual but, at present, laid bare, there are simply no players of the required capacity breaking through.

Last week in Bready was supposed to offer those hoping to make a big impression on John Bracewell the chance to do so but only served as another stark reminder that, beyond the current crop, thereís a lack of emerging talent.

A series defeat to Scotland, without the core of the side, isnít a result to set the alarm bells ringing but the manner of those defeats and the fashion in which none of the players who were given the platform to force their way into the picture did, certainly does.

It may seem harsh to level such criticism towards players on the back of two games, particularly in the shortest format, but a few home truths are needed and the performances in Bready have certainly provided substance for anyone who intends to aim fire - and, certainly, there are many out there lining their shots up.

Without picking out individuals, because, after all, cricket is a team sport, there are a handful of players that simply arenít up to it. Once again, a limited, and mediocre, attack was picked apart by a Scottish side who failed to win a game at the recent World Cup.

ďIt gave us a little look at what depth we had, or have, in terms of going into the tournament as well and the future,Ē Bracewell said. ďSo for me, the whole thing was really a learning experience.

ďI'd seen the guys at UAE, the depth that we've got, which was pretty much the same pack as that went to the World Cup. And now I've had a look at the level below as well. And there's some work to do.Ē

When Ireland take to the field to face Namibia in the opening game of their World Twenty20 Qualifying campaign, it will be a very different side to the one that were emphatically dispatched by the Scots in the north west. But thatís not to say the underlying issues can be painted over.

Bracewell was left to search for the positives after Bready. There werenít many, if any at all. Tyrone Kane caught the eye and has done his chances of further recognition no harm but other than that, it was a revealing exercise for the new coach. If he wasnít fully aware of the size of the task that lies ahead, he certainly is now. Once again, the gulf between domestic and international cricket was demonstrated.

It's difficult to attribute the blame to anyone. Those behind the scenes are straining to put all the pillars in place and the work of Warren Deutrom and Richard Holdsworth, in particular, is unrelenting but with limited resources itís a constant battle.

Itís been said on these pages before and itís worth re-emphasising - Cricket Ireland is the most dynamic sporting organisation in this country. The goal, as we all know, is to play Test cricket but the challenge is ensuring that level can be sustained

When Ireland qualified for the 2012 European Championships under Giovanni Trapattoni, nobody appeared to blink an eye at the means. Then, as the team were ruthlessly exposed and found wanting at the top level, it all fell apart and Trapattoni, and many of the squad, were dispensed with.

The ambition is not just to earn the right to play that first Test match at Lordís in 2019 but to tackle this final ascent and have enough oxygen to survive at the top.

The golden generation may drag us over the line but theyíll have to hand over the baton at some point. The hope is that several of the current U19 squad, who are presently preparing for the World Cup Qualifiers, will make the transition into the senior panel.

There is much excitement over this cohort of cricketers but fulfilling potential is easier said than done. Down the years, many touted Ďstars of the futureí have failed to deliver or, in most cases, the fuss around their ability has been sensationally over-hyped. Itís often been the latter.

As William Porterfield and his team-mates embark on another qualifying campaign next month, Jack Tector will lead the U19s into an equally significant one in Jersey. Itís time for our fledgling cricketers to start to do the talking and not have the coaches build up their potential for them.

Letís not kid ourselves into thinking the conveyor belt will continue to run smoothly just because an Academy system is in place or there is now a posse of coaching staff assisting each underage squad. The set-up is now far more professional so letís see the results.