An Anglo-Irish disagreement
Robin Walsh (Sunday Life)
Irish cricket has launched a major campaign to stem a future flow of its top stars playing for England.
A 22-point questionnaire has gone to current and potential internationals asking what it would take to keep them from swapping the shamrock for the three lions.
Eoin Morgan plays in England colours as Ed Joyce did before him - and Cricket Ireland fears it could be the tip of an iceberg as it looks to the future.
The danger signs are there as never before. No fewer that 11 Irish players are currently on full contracts to English counties - and if you exclude the overseas hired guns who fly in for Twenty20 cricket, that' more than West Indian and Pakistani players put together.
The questionnaire has also been sent to former players and the major stakeholders who finance the game here.
It warns in the following terms: "The threat of this player drain - and the potential for team performances and standards to drop - could impact heavily with Cricket Ireland's significant investors, in particular the ICC, the Sports Councils north and south and the main sponsors. Therefore, Cricket Ireland needs to try and halt such a situation."
Honesty is called for, confidentially is guaranteed and the issues are taken head on.
Is reaching the pinnacle of Test cricket the lure or is it the money it brings? Would players remain with Ireland if they were paid more? One Day Internationals and T20I for Ireland or England?
The questionnaire seeks suggestions on gmaking the experience of playing for Ireland more meaningful. It asks whether a formal academy would instil a desire in young talent to play for their country and not want to move to England.
And it delves into dressing room attitudes, asking what players think about playing with someone who has aspirations to play for another country. Should young players be forced to play only for Ireland and if they chose England or another country should they be selected again to play for Ireland? Should Cricket Ireland increase its search overseas for replacements as long as the current situation continues?
Much of the questionnaire is devoted to the whole issue of qualification from one country to another . For example, before selection for England Joyce had to play for an English county for four years. Yet before rejoining Ireland he had to wait virtually another four years after his last game for England - the so-called stand-outh period.
Should there be an immediate return to an Associate country, asks the questionnaire. Should the ICC change policy to allow a player to only represent one country, and never be allowed to change? Should a player be allowed one change, but never be able to change back?
This past week saw yet another Irish player make his mark on the English county scene - Londonderry's Graeme McCarter whose 3 for 41 helped Gloucestershire defeat Middlesex in the Clydesdale Bank 40 over competition.
The 19 year-old is the sort of player Cricket Ireland has in mind: a product of all the international under age sides and one ODI to his name against Namibia last year.
More to the point is 21 year-old Paul Stirling whose exploits for Ireland have already earned him a real international reputation. He just happened to be Middlesex's second highest scorer with the fastest run rate.
Cricket Ireland makes no secret of its ambition. It wants to be seen as the 10th best country in the world, not the 19th county.
Key to that are more and more games against the Test countries - one offs and regular tri-series which is why serious funding is being sought from the ICC's lucrative Targeted Assistance and Performance Scheme.
And vital to everything is the retention of players on whom time, money and energy have been expended down the years to nurture their talents.