Tough to guarantee matches for associate teams: ICC

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Dubai, Feb 10 (IANS) International Cricket Council (ICC) chief executive David Richardson has said it’s difficult to guarantee considerable number of games for leading Associate teams in their bid to qualify for the 2019 World Cup in England.

Richardson’s view comes after ICC decided to reduce the number of teams participating in the 2019 World Cup from 14 to 10 with the top eight sides in the One-Day International (ODI) rankings till Sep 30, 2017, qualifying automatically.

The remaining two teams will be filled through the Cup qualifying tournament in Bangladesh in 2018.

Theoretically, Ireland and Afghanistan can make it through by reaching the top eight, but the Irish have expressed concerns that they will not be given enough games in the upcoming two years to fulfil that.

Ireland currently sit 12th on the ODI rankings and Afghanistan 11th, but the gap with the eight-positioned West Indies is significant.

“It’s difficult to guarantee matches for them,” Richardson was quoted as saying by ESPNcricinfo Tuesday.

“I think it’s important that we provide the top Associate members the opportunity, and certainly the indications are that the Full Members will support Ireland in that objective.

“They not only will be playing matches against Full Members like England in particular, and teams visiting England, but they’ll also be playing amongst themselves quite frequently.

We’re working on them having at least 10 ODIs per season leading up to qualification for that next World Cup, so I think the opportunity will be there,” he said.

Richardson also believes that the likes of top teams like Australia will now be inclined to schedule games against Afghanistan as well as Ireland in the coming years, under the new system.

“Australia have been talking about tours involving Afghanistan. I don’t think we’d have gone down this route if we weren’t confident that we’d make sure that Ireland and Afghanistan both are playing in the region of eight to ten ODIs per year.”

Other Associate nations such as Scotland and the United Arab Emirates, who are playing at the World Cup this year, would have to qualify for the next World Cup by finishing in the top two of the qualifiers in Bangladesh in 2018.

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