It may be too late for this season, but Andrew Balbirnie has called for a first-class structure to be set up in Ireland from next year.

The absence of the inter-provincial Championship for four successive seasons has sent the Ireland players into a schedule where the six Test matches they will play in the next year will be their only first-class (red-ball) cricket.

Speaking after the four-day defeat by Bangladesh and ahead of the first of two Test matches against Sri Lanka in Galle, starting next Sunday, the Ireland captain said: “Naturally we want to play more Test cricket but we also want to play first class cricket. We need to hone our skills with the red ball.

“The two training days we had leading up to (last week’s) Test was the first time we had seen a red Kookabura (ball). That shouldn’t be the case. We should be going into a Test match picking from 20 players with first-class cricket under their belts, so before we start crying out for more Tests we need to make sure our structure is right so that we can allow players to develop their game in first class cricket and then play Test cricket.

“If we were going into two Tests against Sri Lanka with no red-ball cricket, let alone Test cricket, it would be very challenging because we know Sri Lanka are a very good team in their own conditions. But I feel we are as prepared as we possibly can be with a Test match in the sub-continent under our belts.

“The lads will be confident, we have had enough good performances from our new guys that if we could get a couple more things right we could give it a crack. We want to try and win Test matches and will always do that. We are desperate to get on the board but we know we have to learn quickly.”

Not only had Ireland six Test debutants against Bangladesh but former Civil Service North leg spinner Ben White was playing his maiden first-class game.

“Those players now have a taste of Test cricket and know what it takes to field for a day, try to bat for a day and that’s the tough part of our job - we have to do it at the highest level, we have to learn to be Test cricketers,” continued Balbirnie.

“We can’t play 30-40 first-class matches and then become a Test cricketer we have to go into Test cricket with only a handful of first-class games and that’s going to be challenging.”