The International Cricket Council (ICC) have confirmed the schedule for the ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier 2012 which will take place in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) from 13 to 24 March, 2012.
Sixteen sides from across the globe will feature in the 12-day tournament which will be played at five venues – Dubai International Cricket Stadium and ICC Global Cricket Academy grounds No.1 and No.2 in Dubai, Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Zayed Stadium and the historic Sharjah Cricket Stadium.
The 16 teams have been divided into two groups with Afghanistan, Netherlands, Canada, Papua New Guinea (PNG), Hong Kong, Bermuda, Denmark and Nepal forming Group A and Ireland, Kenya, Scotland, Namibia, Uganda, Oman, Italy and the USA comprising Group B.
The tournament winner will join Australia and the West Indies in group B of the ICC World Twenty20 2012 in September 2012 while the losing finalist will complete Group A which also includes defending champion England and 2007 winner India.
ICC’s Global Development Manager, Tim Anderson, said: “This is one of the most important and prestigious events on the Pepsi ICC Development Programme’s calendar in which 16 leading Associate and Affiliate Members will vie for the two available places in the ICC World Twenty20 2012 Sri Lanka.
“This final qualifier is the last step of a pathway that comprised 13 ICC regional tournaments during 2010 and 2011 and saw the involvement of over 90 ICC Associate and Affiliate members. The 72-match format has been designed to give the best sides every chance of making the final.”
This will be the third ICC World Twenty20 qualifier. When it was last staged, also in the UAE in 2010, Afghanistan and Ireland claimed the qualifying spots.
The ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier has grown in stature since it was first held in Belfast, Ireland, in August 2008. That event comprised the then six top Associate Members – Bermuda, Canada, Ireland, Kenya, Netherlands and Scotland.
Ireland and Netherlands shared the trophy when the final was washed-out without a ball being bowled. The two sides, along with Scotland which replaced Zimbabwe, qualified for the ICC World Twenty20 2009 which was staged at Lord’s, The Oval and Trent Bridge in England. Pakistan won the tournament.
The UAE hosted the second edition in February 2010 which was contested by the top six Associate and Affiliate sides– Afghanistan, Canada, Ireland, Kenya, Netherlands and Scotland – as well as hosts UAE and United States of America (USA) who were specially invited by the ICC.
After 17 matches over six days at two venues in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, Afghanistan and Ireland reached the final and qualified for the ICC World Twenty20 2010 which was staged in the West Indies and won by England. Afghanistan won the qualifying tournament when it defeated Ireland by eight wickets.