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ICC perform World Cup U-turn

Ireland have been handed a route back into the next World Cup after the International Cricket Council reversed their decision to omit the Associate countries.

The ICC have agreed to include four Associate nations, in addition to the 10 full members, for the 2015 tournament in Australia and New Zealand.

That means the next World Cup will remain as a 14-team competition, despite criticism that this year's event was too long.

The ICC's U-turn represents a significant boost for Ireland, who will now be strongly expected to qualify for their third consecutive World Cup, after establishing themselves as the best-performed Associate nation in recent years.

In addition to Tuesday's decision, which was made at the ICC's annual conference in Hong Kong, it was also agreed that the next two World Twenty20 tournaments would be reduced back to 12 teams.

"The ICC executive board today reversed its previous decisions and approved a 14-team format for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 to be held in Australia and New Zealand and a 12-team format for the ICC World Twenty20 events in 2012 (Sri Lanka) and 2014 (Bangladesh)," the statement read.

"The board had previously decided in October 2010 that the ICC Cricket World Cup would comprise a 10-team event and that the ICC World Twenty20 events would involve 16 teams."

The ICC also revealed the 2019 World Cup would be a 10-team tournament, with their rankings system used to determine the first eight direct entries. A qualification tournament will then be held to determine the final two teams to fill the numbers.

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