Eoin Morgan could not fulfil his international ambitions with Ireland
Ireland are banging their heads against a "glass ceiling" in their attempts to break into the Test-playing elite, says Cricket Ireland chief Warren Deutrom.
Irish cricket's chief executive has made the claim as William Porterfield's team complete their preparations for the ICC World Twenty20.
"There is no road map for us," Deutrom told Wisden Cricketer.
"How do we get from high-performance programme to the higher echelons of the world game?"
Deutrom added: "What is the point of associate cricket?
"Ireland has proved itself head and shoulders above the rest of the associate nations.
"Yet we are bumping up against a glass ceiling."
The Cricket Ireland chief fears no effective route is available for top International Cricket Council associate member countries to progress and therefore rub shoulders regularly with Test nations.
There is no stepping stone from number one of the associate countries into the Test world
Cricket Ireland chief Warren Deutrom
Deutrom, formerly an administrator with both the ICC and England and Wales Cricket Board, is frustrated at the Catch-22 facing Ireland and others.
Ireland famously reached the second stage of the 2007 World Cup - something that proved beyond both India and Pakistan, the powerhouses of sub-continental cricket.
Since then, however, Middlesex batsman Eoin Morgan has been tempted away by England - a path previously trodden by Ed Joyce.
Deutrom is at a loss to understand how Ireland can make the next crucial step up in the global pecking order.
"The issue brings to question the whole mission statement of the ICC high-performance programme: what is it preparing teams for?"
Following their success in the Caribbean two years ago, Ireland are always noted as the associate member most likely to trouble apparent superiors.
They ran into Chris Gayle close to his most destructive in a nine-wicket warm-up defeat against the West Indies at The Oval on Tuesday but have taken the provision of arranging an extra match - against South Africa at Southgate on Thursday - for a tournament that begins in earnest on Friday.
Cricket Ireland chief Warren Deutrom says Irish cricket has no road map
Deutrom is well aware even another eye-catching campaign from Ireland on the big stage is highly unlikely to help them break down an established world order.
"The (ICC's) future tours programme for 2012 onwards is currently under discussion but there is little discussion about accommodating any more full members," he said.
"So three or four years from now there will be no new entrants into the cosy club of full Test members. That is a significant frustration.
"It shows that despite the massive investment in the associate programme...there is no stepping stone from number one of the associate countries into the Test world."
Until that happens, Deutrom and his colleagues cannot even contemplate the business plan they would like for Irish cricket.
"Inclusion in the future tours programme gives guaranteed fixtures, which allows the CI board to put together a commercial package with some certainty," he explained.
"This makes it interesting for broadcasters, and then sponsors, ticketing and hospitality.
"Currently, we don't know what next year's fixtures are going to be.
"We are not saying that Ireland deserves to be a Test nation tomorrow - but what steps do we need to take to get there?"