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Ireland could be set for some home comfort in World Cup bid

 

By Ian Callender

Ireland are in line for a huge boost to their hopes of qualifying for the 2019 World Cup finals by hosting the qualifying tournament next year.

Bangladesh were awarded the tournament last year but if they are still in the top eight of the one-day international world rankings at the end of September - the cut-off date - they have indicated to the International Cricket Council (ICC) they would no longer wish to host the qualifiers. They are currently seventh, 12 points clear of the West Indies in ninth.

In that scenario, John Bracewell's Ireland, along with Scotland, are favourites to host the tournament next summer, and in home conditions Ireland would also be favourites to be one of the two teams to qualify for the 10-team World Cup in England.

Ireland - and Scotland - hosted the World Cup qualifiers in 2005. The first week was in Belfast and the second in Dublin, and both teams reached the final to complete the line-up for the finals in the West Indies in 2007 - the tournament in which Ireland knocked out Pakistan to announce their arrival on the world stage.

Ireland still had to qualify for the next World Cup finals in 2011 which they did in some style by winning the final against Canada in South Africa.

That tournament again produced six qualifiers but when Ireland won the 2013 World Cricket League - part of their treble winning year - it qualified them for the 2015 finals in Australia and New Zealand, their eighth successive global event.

The decision to reduce the World Cup to 10 teams, however, has not only forced all the Associate Members to qualify for England but the bottom two ranked Full Members - currently West Indies and Zimbabwe - will also be in the qualifying tournament.

Zimbabwe are the only other country in contention to host next year's qualifiers but they have already been awarded the 2022 qualifier and, with the finals in England, conditions here would be similar for those who qualify.

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