McCausland backs Ireland
Northern Ireland sports minister Nelson McCausland has written to Cricket Ireland chief executive Warren Deutrom backing the decision to challenge the International Cricket Council's stance on the 2015 World Cup.
It was announced earlier this week that ICC president Sharad Pawar had requested the governing body's executive board reconsider their plans to include only the 10 full member nations at the next edition of the tournament.
"As minister with responsibility for sport in Northern Ireland, I feel I must write to you to express my deep unhappiness at the recent ICC decision to restrict qualification to the 2015 World Cup to the 10 full ICC members," said McCausland in a letter to Deutrom.
Pawar's request was in no small part down to extensive lobbying from Cricket Ireland in concert with the other 94 associate and affiliate member nations.
There is no guarantee that the 10-man executive board will reverse their decision when they meet again in Hong Kong in June, but the groundswell of support from the wider cricketing public has taken some by surprise and Pawar's intervention will carry significant political influence.
"Whilst cricket is by no means the biggest or most popular sport in Northern Ireland, it is certainly a significant force in sport here with a large and growing local following," McCausland continued. "In recognition of this, government in Northern Ireland has been investing significantly in the development of cricket here.
"The clear success of the Ireland team - and the fact that it is now in the top 10 of world ranked sides - makes the ICC ruling in relation to the 2015 World Cup all the more dismaying and disappointing.
"Indeed, if media reports are to be believed, membership status, rather than performance on the pitch and the promotion of the sport on a world stage, was the primary basis for board's decision.
"If that was proven to be the case, then as a Minister of Sport, I would regard this as a wholly indefensible position.
"I want you to know, in the meantime, that I fully support your action and, indeed, am very happy for Cricket Ireland to make my views on the issue known publicly or to the ICC Board if you consider that would be helpful."