IRELAND WILL HAVE to beat one of cricket’s top nations in a qualifying tournament to earn a place at the 2019 Cricket World Cup.
The International Cricket Council’s Executive Board confirmed today that only 10 teams will take part in the 2019 tournament, reducing the number of teams from 14 in 2011 and 2015.
Under the structure proposed last year, England will qualify automatically as tournament hosts as will the top eight nations in the world rankings. The two remaining spots will be filled by the winners of a 10-team qualifying tournament, due to take place in 2018.
Until now, cricket’s 10 test-playing nations have always been guaranteed an automatic place at the World Cup. Under the new format, two of these “full member” countries will now have to compete in the qualifying tournament which gives the Associate and Affiliate nations, including Ireland, a chance to earn a place in the World Cup on merit.
The ICC previously announced plans to restrict the World Cup to full members only in 2015. That move was scrapped and the 14-team format restored following outcry from Ireland and the other Associates, who would have been automatically excluded from the competition.
The ICC also confirmed today that the shorter format Twenty20 World Cup will be expanded from 12 to 16 teams from 2014 onwards. Ireland qualified for this year’s tournament in Sri Lanka by winning the World T20 Qualifying Tournament in Dubai last month, beating Afghanistan in the final.