The ICC Board on Wednesday approved that Afghanistan and Ireland will join the 10 Full Members in the rankings-based qualification system for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019.
The top eight-ranked sides on the Reliance ICC ODI Team Rankings as at 30 September 2017 will qualify automatically to the 2019 event, while the bottom four will play in the 10-team ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier 2018 that will determine the final two teams in the line-up.
The final two positions in the ICC World Cricket League Championship will now be filled by Kenya and Nepal, who finished third and fourth, respectively, in the Pepsi ICC World Cricket League Division 2 in Namibia last week. They will join Hong Kong, Namibia, Netherlands, Papua New Guinea, Scotland and the United Arab Emirates in the two-year competition, which is scheduled to start in mid-2015.
The new structure also 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 Rankings table and the winner of the ICC World Cricket League Championship. The winner of the play-off will be included on the Rankings table for the next cycle, and the loser will compete in the ICC World Cricket League Championship.
Ireland and Afghanistan will continue to play in the four-day, first-class ICC Intercontinental Cup 2015-17, along with Hong Kong, Namibia, Netherlands, Papua New Guinea, Scotland and the United Arab Emirates.
ICC Chief Executive David Richardson 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.
“The decision also provides even greater context to One-Day International cricket, and provides a fully meritocratic pathway into ICC’s Cricket World Cup and Champions Trophy events. 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 CEO 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.
“We are confident that we can now accelerate our progress as part of this qualification structure with the Full Members, while this is also an excellent boost as we put our finishing touches on our preparations for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015.”