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Ireland delight as ICC back down on World Cup

By Ian Callender

The World has been put back into the 2015 World Cup after the ICC's Executive Board yesterday did a U-turn and have not only reinstated a qualification tournament but also announced that, for the second successive event, it will be contested by 14 teams.

The news was greeted with "guarded delight" by Cricket Ireland chief executive Warren Deutrom, in Hong Kong for the ICC Annual Conference. "We are relieved with the decision. Now all we have to do is qualify," he said.

But, with Ireland the current top-ranked Associate nation and having won the last qualifying tournament in 2009, William Porterfield's side will be hot favourites to take their place in the sport's most high-profile event for the third successive time.

The format of the qualifying tournament has yet to be announced but it is assumed that it will take place, as originally intended, in Glasgow in 2013 with the top four going through to the finals in Australia and New Zealand two years later.

The successful format of this year's finals is expected to be retained with two groups of seven and each team guaranteed a minimum of six games.

Porterfield said: "It's a real boost for Irish cricket, as we have continued to improve since our first appearance in 2007, and will now have further opportunities to qualify for World Cups."

And Trent Johnston, who hit the winning runs when Ireland beat Pakistan in Jamaica four years ago and is now a member of the influential ICC Cricket Committee, said: "The decision has given everybody a great lift, and it's very big of the ICC to admit they'd gotten it wrong, and change their mind."

There will be no turning back, however, by ICC on the decision to make the 2019 World Cup, in England, a 10-team tournament. The top eight will get automatic entry and the other two teams will emerge from a new qualification tournament. The next two World Twenty20 tournaments, in Sri Lanka next year, and in 2014 will be contested by 12 teams and not 16 as originally proposed.

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