(AFP): Cricket’s governing body the International Cricket Council (ICC) approved a new system of qualifying for the 2015 World Cup in London early this week.
It is a result of a humiliating u-turn by the ICC after they had originally announced that the 2015 tournament would be just contested by the 10 Test-playing countries.
However, following a negative reaction to that they have decided to organise qualifying which will see four second tier countries end up fighting out the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.
There will be a new 50-over League introduced which will serve as the qualifying programme for the World Cup.
The top two teams in the eight team 50-over League will qualify automatically for the World Cup and the remainder of the teams will be joined by the teams finishing third and fourth in the World Cricket League Division 2.
The top two teams will compete in the new League to decide the remaining two qualifiers.
The event will take place at a venue and on a date still to be decided.
Ireland coach Phil Simmons was delighted with the announcement as his side would be among the favourites to fill one of the spots – they have a rich recent World Cup pedigree having beaten Pakistan four years ago and then England this year in the group stages.
“It certainly gives all the one-day games in the league some extra spice, and there’s sure to be some high-pressure games as the league progresses,” said Simmons.
The competition has already begun, and Ireland are up and running. “We’ve got off to a good start beating Namibia twice, and we’ll be looking to add to that with wins against Canada,” said Simmons, a former West Indies opening batsman.
“We’ve tried to schedule the games to give ourselves the best chance of having everyone available, which isn’t always easy.”
ICC Chief Executive Haroon Lorgat said that this system would enable all countries no matter what level they were at the moment.
“This will provide exciting context for the new 50-over League with every one of the Associate and Affiliate teams able to make their way from Division eight of the World Cricket League all the way to the ICC Cricket World Cup finals,” said Lorgat.
While the 2015 World Cup will be a 14-team competition the 2019 World Cup will be a scaled-down 10-team event, with the top eight places being awarded to the top-ranked teams and two berths being awarded in a pre-qualifying tournament.