Belfast Telegraph

Ireland may get Cricket World Cup lifeline

By Ian Callender

The president of the International Cricket Council has given Ireland a possible reprieve in their efforts to qualify for the next World Cup.

Sharad Pawar has told the ICC Executive Board, which this month decided that the 2015 tournament in Australia would be a 10-team Full Members event, to revisit the issue at the Annual Conference in Hong Kong at the end of June.

Inundated by representations from Associate and Affiliate nations, as well as worldwide condemnation of the decision not to have a qualifying tournament, Mr Pawar said yesterday: “I have given this matter further serious thought and will request the Board to consider this topic once more.

“I can understand the views of the Associates and Affiliates and ICC will seek to deal with this issue in the best way possible,” he added.

Cricket Ireland chief executive Warren Deutrom, who vowed to fight the decision to not have a qualifying tournament, said he was “cautiously optimistic” but at least there was “light at the end of the tunnel”.

Mr Deutrom went on: “We’re not breaking open the champagne because nothing has been determined.

“Clearly there is nothing to celebrate yet but it is an important step that it is back on the agenda.

“We didn’t have that yesterday. The fact that we have it today means there has been a reconsideration of what is important in the best interests of the sport and they understand the reaction that is coming from the vast majority of ICC’s own members,” he explained.

Deutrom, however, is still anxious for a top level meeting before the ICC Board assemble to review their controversial decision.

“What hasn’t been addressed yet is our request to meet with the president, vice president and ICC senior management so that we can convey our own thoughts in June, specifically to stress that we are unanimous, the 95 (Associate and Affiliate) countries are standing shoulder to shoulder and they can see the strength of our resolve on this issue.

“That is a very important piece of the jigsaw,” he added.

Whether the possibility of a 12-team tournament will also be up for discussion, and everything is back on the table, remains unknown but Cricket Ireland know what answer they want.

On April 4, in Mumbai, the ICC Board was split between those who were happy to have a qualifying tournament to reach a 10-team World Cup and the rest who would have voted for a 12-team finals but with guaranteed participation for the 10 Full Members.

The only compromise they could reach was a Full Members tournament.

“It will be the same discussion (by the same people) but this time we hope that the only non-negotiable issue is there must be a qualifier,” added Deutrom.

“We believe it is essential for a qualifying opportunity for the best of the rest.

“Whether that means we go up against two or three Full Members to get into a 10-team event or two Associates coming out of a qualifier for a 12-team event, we don’t mind.

“We have stuck to the same principle over the last two weeks, the most important component of all this being that the world has an opportunity to qualify for the World Cup.”

Belfast Telegraph


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