Intercontinental Cup: Ireland begin bid for Test status against UAE
Ireland will begin their bid to secure Test status when they take on the United Arab Emirates in their opening Intercontinental Cup match at Malahide.
The tournament has added significance as a potential pathway to Test cricket and it is a challenge new Ireland head coach John Bracewell is relishing.
"It's a very important game as we take a first step towards our aim of being a Test playing nation," said Bracewell.
"That opportunity was one of the main reasons I took on the job of coach."
All four Associate nations who impressed at the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 will be in action on Tuesday in the opening round of the four-day matches which make up the 2015-17 series, with Scotland hosting Afghanistan.
The side that wins the eight-team round-robin competition will play the 10th-ranked nation in the Test team rankings (as of 31 December 2017) in the four-match ICC Test Challenge during 2018.
If the Associate Member wins the series, to be played on a home and away basis, then it will become the 11th Test nation.
This is reigning champion Ireland's seventh appearance in the competition, which also features former winner Afghanistan, Hong Kong, Namibia, Netherlands, Papua New Guinea (PNG), 2004 champions Scotland and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Ireland have participated in all six ICC Intercontinental Cup since its inception in 2004, winning it on four occasions - 2005, 2006-7, 2007-8 and 2011-13.
In all, the Irish has played 32 matches, winning 20, losing just two and drawing 10.
Former New Zealand off-spinner Bracewell explained that the added incentive offered by the competition made it "incredibly exciting for the team and the country as we look to write new chapters in our cricketing history".
"The team has a fantastic record in the competition having won it four times and we'd like nothing better than to make it five wins.
"We've selected a very strong squad for the game and are at full strength. We've got a lot of experienced players in our ranks who've played a lot of multi-day cricket."
Among those selected is Tim Murtagh, who proved his fitness in a 2nd XI game for Middlesex last week and will take his place in an Ireland line-up for the first time in 13 months.