The presence of Heinrich Malan on Emerging Ireland’s tour to Antigua has raised the stakes for the 14 players who would appear to be the next cabs off the rank for promotion to the senior squad.

Although the Ireland head coach will be leaving the Caribbean after the fourth of the five-game tour, to lead the international squad in Zimbabwe, he will oversee all three 50-over List A games against the West Indies (U23) Academy side and the first of the two four-day games, which have been confirmed as first class fixtures.

Four of the Emerging squad have already appeared at senior level, with Stephen Doheny, the most experienced player, and appointed as captain, out to prove he is ready for a recall. Although he scored 84 against Zimbabwe and 34 against Bangladesh in his first three ODI innings, he aggregated only 41 in his last four against the Tigers and has been out of favour since the last of those games in Chelmsford in May.

Stephen Doheny (Sportsfile)

The last of Fionn Hand’s 11 caps was the Lord’s Test at the start of June but he has yet to play an ODI, so the first three games – the opener is on Friday at 1pm Irish time – will be a chance for him to show Malan he should be in the selectors’ thoughts for the games against Afghanistan in March.

Murray Commins is the oldest member of the squad at 26 but has not been involved in the Ireland squad after one ODI innings and two Tests which yielded a total of 12 runs in five innings, and 21-year-old Matthew Humpheys, who made his senior debut in all three formats this year, has been sent back down a level to gain more experience.

Matthew Foster could have been capped by now but for injury denying him a place on the tour of Sri Lanka in April and in front of assistant coach and Ireland selector Boyd Rankin, he will share pace bowling duties with Tom Mayes, who was on all three winter tours without being selected and Liam McCarthy who gets a deserved call-up to this level after an impressive inter-pro campaign with Munster Reds.

Competing with Humphreys in the spin bowling department is Gavin Hoey and Mike Frost while there is tremendous potential in the young batting line-up with Morgan Topping and Cade Carmichael looking to build on their breakthrough seasons in the NCU, Scott Macbeth, at 19 the youngest player in the squad, starred for Brigade in the North West and Tim Tector and Adam Rosslee in Leinster.

All but four of the West Indies side have first-class experience with the Academy while their 15-man squad for the one-day games has 161 List A appearances between them; the Ireland side, despite one less player, can boast 203.

It should be a great learning experience for both the Ireland players and their head coach.