Cape Town: Even as a controversy raged over the inclusion of ‘minnows’ in the World Cup, the ICC announced a new programme Thursday to guarantee regular competitive international cricket for non-Test playing nations.
The World Cup Qualifying Series (WCQS), to be organised on the lines of Davis Cup, will split the ICC’s 27 affiliate members and 47 associate members into small groups on the basis of similar ability with promotions and relegations at the end of each competition.
The world group will kick off later this year with 27 nations taking part in four different tournaments that are based on merit and not on geographical location.
Canada, Namibia and Holland will meet again in Nairobi this summer along with Kenya, UAE and Scotland in Division I of the world group.
Division II, comprising Ireland, Denmark, US, Bermuda, Uganda and Nepal, will play in Los Angeles.
Malaysia, Hong Kong, Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Singapore and Argentina will form Division III and play in Kuala Lumpur.
The Division IV games — comprising Italy, Germany, Nigeria, Tanzania, Gibraltar, Israel, France, East and Central Africa and Cayman Islands — will be held in Rome.
The ICC trophy will still feature prominently in the calender for the associate nations. In 2005, the top 12 WCQS teams from 2003 will contest the title — the six from Division I, the top five from Division II and the Division III winners.
Four best teams from the ICC trophy will join the 10 Test playing nations in the 2007 World Cup in West Indies.