ICC overturn ban on minnows
Hong Kong - World cricket's governing body announced on Tuesday that four non-Test playing nations would compete in the next World Cup, in a U-turn of a controversial decision that had excluded the game's minnows.
The International Cricket Council (ICC) in a statement said its executive board had approved 14-team contest in Australia and New Zealand in 2015, with 10 places going to the Test-playing nations. The second-tier teams will have to pre-qualify for the remaining four places.
The ICC also announced the 2019 World Cup would be a scaled-down 10-team event, with the top eight places being awarded to the top-ranked teams and two berths being awarded in a pre-qualifying tournament.
The about-face on the 2015 World Cup reverses the ICC's decision to limit the 2015 tournament to the sport's 10 full-member teams -- which left countries such as Ireland, the Netherlands, Canada and Kenya on the sidelines.
"In Hong Kong today, the ICC executive board opted to retain the 14-team format that was used at the highly successful and universally acclaimed ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 in Bangladesh, India and Sri Lanka with the 10 full members being joined by four associate or affiliate qualifiers," the ICC said on its website.
ICC president Sharad Pawar had asked his board to discuss the matter at the conference, with the governing body looking to avoid a repeat of the seven-week World Cup, deemed by some critics as unnecessarily lengthy.
Officials were previously believed to have been in favour of retaining a 10-team limit even if smaller countries were allowed into the World Cup.
Ireland, who outshone many Test-playing nations at this year's tournament, capping their tournament with a stunning win over England in Bangalore, had been at the forefront of the campaign against ousting the minnows.
"I suppose the immediate reaction is one of relief, and that we can all now divert our energies in the significantly more proactive pursuit of trying to qualify," said Cricket Ireland chief executive Warren Deutrom.
A 12-team format was given the go-ahead for the ICC World Twenty20 events in Sri Lanka next year and in Bangladesh in 2014.
The board also approved a recommendation made by its chief executives' committee on Monday to make the controversial Umpire Decision Review System (DRS) mandatory in all international Tests and one-day matches.
Hot Spot, the "thermal imaging" technology now available and made mandatory in the DRS, will mostly be used for close catches and edges.
The ground-breaking deal means that India will, for the first time, agree to using the DRS in a Test series when they tour England from July. But the world champions remain against the Hawkeye ball-tracking system.
The board said the use of Hawkeye, which tracks the trajectory of the delivery, would continue to depend on agreement between both teams in any match.
Lbw decisions will continue to be governed by the on-field umpires.
Under the agreement, teams will be allowed to make one incorrect challenge to an on-field umpire's decision before all their referrals for that innings are used up.