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Cricket: Stormont will now host feast of World action

By Ian Callender

The International Cricket Council has confirmed that Belfast will host the first ICC World Twenty20 qualifier for Associate Nations, with two places up for grabs in the 2009 World Championships - and Kenya will be back for three ODIs.

As reported in the Belfast Telegraph on Monday, Ireland were in pole position to host the tournament which will decide who joins the 10 Full members at the finals in England and yesterday Stormont was confirmed as the venue for all nine qualifying matches which will take place from August 2-4 next year.

The six teams are likely to be divided into two groups of three, with each playing the other in their group on the first two days and the play-off games taking place on Monday August 4.

Scotland and Kenya qualified for the first Twenty20 World Championships in South Africa this year and they will both be in Belfast next summer trying for a repeat against Canada, the Netherlands, Bermuda and the hosts.

Welcoming confirmation that Ireland will host the tournament, chief executive Warren Deutrom said: "The ICU is excited at the prospect of hosting this inaugural Associate World Twenty20 on home soil in Stormont," he said. "Three games a day for three days in this highly popular form of the game will surely attract the interest of the Irish public."

The inclusion of the Twenty20 qualifiers in the fixture list means that Ireland's ODI against Canada will now take place after the teams' Inter-Continental Cup clash instead of before. The new date for the ODI is Monday August 11, which is hardly the greatest day for bringing in the crowds. The four-day game is unchanged on August 6-9 and Clontarf will host both games against the Canadians.

Three ODIs against Kenya have also been confirmed for the end of August, the first of nine games between the teams in the space of two months, both home and away.

The ODIs in Ireland will take place on Sunday August 24, Monday August 25 and Wednesday August 27, all at Stormont, which should ensure a thrilling end to the international summer. Kenya are the only team ahead of Ireland in the ODI rankings of Associate nations but the three home games and the five away between October 18 and 25 will give Phil Simmons' squad a chance to prove themselves the best below the Test nations.

The ODIs in Kenya will immediately follow Ireland's last two Inter-Continental games in Namibia on October 5-8 and Nairobi on October 12-15.

The final of the I-C Cup has been confirmed for November 12-15 in Dubai with Ireland, winners of the last two events, hoping to be in their third final

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