In widely expected move, the International Cricket Council (ICC) has officially confirmed their decision of October 2010 that participation in the 2015 Cricket World Cup will be limited to the 10 countries with full membership status at today’s Executive Board meeting in the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel in Mumbai.
This move comes as significant blow to associate member countries, as they will now be excluded from the 2015 tournament being staged in Australia and New Zealand. Participation in the 2019 tournament in England and Wales will be determined following a qualification process, still to be finalised, although the number of competing nations will remain limited to 10 teams.
This news comes as a major blow to Ireland and the Netherlands in particular, as their outstanding performances in the last two world cups has significantly increased the sport’s popularity in those countries. This comes as a distinctly bitter pill for Ireland to swallow, considering the current world rankings see Ireland occupy 10th spot, ABOVE full ICC member Zimbabwe.
There is some consolation though. Ireland will not be completely lacking of 1st class international competition. The number of competing countries at the biennial Twenty20 World cup has been increased from 12 to 16 in time for the next tournament to be held in Sri Lanka in 2012.
If this decision is seen as a slap in the face for Cricket Ireland, the best thing they can do is put in strong performances this summer against the touring Pakistan who visit Belfast next month and England who visit Dublin in August.
Cricket had made significant inroads into the Irish sporting psyche thanks to the teams world cup showings. With one fell swoop, the ICC have set back Cricket Ireland’s cause by at least 5 years and made it an elitist sport one again.