Club Cricket Conference

Wednesday, 22nd May 2024

Ireland's jump in status gives Nepal unexpected reprieve

By Charles Randall

30 January 2015

The ICC reassessment of the path to the 2019 World Cup has given Ireland, along with Afghanistan, a guaranteed place among the top 12 one-day sides in the Reliance ICC rankings.

The ICC announced this week that the top eight sides at 30 September 2017 would qualify automatically for the 2019 World Cup and that the next four sides would compete in a 10-team qualifying tournament in 2018 for the remaining two places.

That meant that Ireland and Afghanistan no longer needed to play in the ICC World Cricket League Championship, the ICC’s one-day competition for the leading Associate and Affiliate sides. The two unexpected vacancies will be filled from the Pepsi ICC World Cricket League Division Two rankings established at the recent tournament in Namibia, giving a reprieve to Kenya and Nepal, who finished third and fourth behind Namibia and Holland.

The reorganisation seems to help Ireland and Afghanistan a step closer to Test cricket on the back of their one-day achievements, judging from praise by the ICC chief executive David Richardson. He said: “Both Afghanistan and Ireland have excelled on and off the field in recent years, and this decision is a critical step forward to the ICC’s aim of having more competitive teams in international cricket.”

Ireland and Afghanistan will continue to play in the four-day, first class ICC Intercontinental Cup, a three-year cycle to 2017 with Hong Kong, Namibia, Netherlands, Papua New Guinea, Scotland and the United Arab Emirates. Surely another strong showing from Ireland in this format will take them even higher in world estimation.

Ireland's advance has given fast-improving Nepal a good chance to progress under their captain Paras Khadka. The new Championship league will now contain Hong Kong, Papua New Guinea, Scotland, United Arab Emirates, Namibia, Holland, Kenya and Nepal in a two-year competition scheduled to start in mid-2015. The top six will then compete in the 10-team World Cup qualifier.

The ICC one-day structure includes a promotion and relegation system for Associate and Affiliate members, with a challenge series to take place between the lowest-ranked Associate member on the 12-team rankings table and the winner of the ICC World Cricket League Championship. The winner of the play-off will be included on the top 12 rankings table for the next cycle, and the loser will compete in the ICC World Cricket League Championship.

Richardson added that the top 12 idea provided “even greater context” to one-day international cricket. “It provides a fully meritocratic pathway into ICC’s Cricket World Cup and Champions Trophy events,” he said. “It also compliments the recent decision by the ICC Board to introduce opportunities for Associate and Affiliate Members to play Test cricket through the ICC Intercontinental Cup and ICC Test Challenge. With a system of promotion and relegation in place, I look forward to seeing the leading Associate and Affiliate teams become even more competitive as they battle for the opportunity to compete at the very highest level of one-day cricket.”

Cricket Ireland chief executive Warren Deutrom said: “We are absolutely delighted with the opportunity to qualify directly to the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019. Ireland has worked very hard over recent years to prove itself as the leading Associate side and has beaten a number of full members over the years.”