Cricket Ireland chief executive Warren Deutrom hopes that the new play-off system that offers Ireland a chance to play Test cricket will stop the exodus of top players to England.
The ICC today announced details that will give the winners of the Intercontinental Cup a chance to join the Test-playing nations.
Referring to the likes of Eoin Morgan, Ed Joyce and Boyd Rankin, who all chose to play for England citing a desire to play top-level cricket, Deutrom told RTÉ Sport: “It provides us with an opportunity we hadn’t previously had. There was never a pathway towards the ultimate in cricket, which is the ability to play Test cricket.
“I guess if we look back at one of the main reasons we may have had our best players wishing to go and play in England and then subsequently for England was because this pathway never existed.
“And now that pathway and that opportunity does exist for our best players to be able to realise their aspirations, their dreams to play the highest form of the game
“Now that it does exist to do that for Ireland, let’s hope that this is the last we’re going to see of guys wanting to wear the Three Lions rather than the green of Ireland on their shirts.”
The ICC Test Challenge, which will take place every four years from 2018, will see the winners of the ICC Intercontinental Cup play four five-day Tests against the lowest-ranked Test team.
Ireland beat Afghanistan in the Intercontinental Cup final in 2013.
Under the new plan, the winners of the Cup for associate nations - Ireland, Afghanistan, Scotland, United Arab Emirates, Namibia, Canada, Kenya and Netherlands - will play against the side ranked number 10 (at the end of December 2017) of the Test nations.
"Let’s hope that this is the last we’re going to see of guys wanting to wear the Three Lions"
Of the five tournaments held since 2004, Ireland have won four.
The outcome of two five-day matches at home and away is expected to determine which team then becomes a Test-playing nation for the next four-year cycle, in accordance with a plan announced by the ICC two months ago at a meeting in Singapore as one of many major changes on and off the field.
It is following the conclusion of this week's two-day board meeting in Dubai that more details have emerged.
ICC chief executive David Richardson said: "The ICC Test Challenge now opens the door for associate members to play Test cricket and in doing so gives even greater context to the ICC Intercontinental Cup, which will now be a pathway to Test cricket."