City hosts key World Cup talks
The fate of Hong Kong and other associate members at future World Cups will be decided when the International Cricket Council meets in Hong Kong in June to rethink the controversial decision to bar the non-test-playing nations.
The ICC annual conference will take up the matter after ICC president Sharad Pawar requested a reassessment of the decision to make the 2015 World Cup in Australia a 10-team event, limited to the test-playing nations.
'I have given this matter serious thought and will request the board to consider this topic once more,' Pawar said. 'I can understand the views of the associates and affiliates and the ICC will seek to deal with this issue in the best way possible.'
If the ICC had stuck to the old formula, then the top 10 associate members by ranking - and Hong Kong is now one of them after making it into the top four in division two (there are six teams in division one) - would have played in a World Cup qualifying tournament.
Hong Kong will take on added significance, with associate members expected to gather in full force to press their case for a path into the World Cup.
'This will be a very important meeting for the fate of the associates will be decided here,' said John Cribbin, secretary of the Hong Kong Cricket Association.
Cribbin, who is also one of seven elected representatives of the 95-strong associate and affiliate members, said the World Cup issue would be top of the agenda at the annual meeting on June 27.
'The ICC president and vice-president will attend our [associates] meeting and we will get the chance to present our case to them,' Cribbin said. 'The associates and affiliates normally meet to formulate matters that concern us and obviously this issue will be of prime importance.'
The ICC's executive board meeting - comprising the 10 chief executives of the test-playing nations along with the ICC president - will be held on June 28 and 29. The ICC annual conference - all 105 members - will round off the gathering on June 30.
At its meeting on April 4, two days after the World Cup final, the ICC board decided to allow only the 10 full members in the 2015 edition. The board had also agreed the 10-team format would be in place for the 2019 World Cup in England as well, though there would be a qualification process involving the associates.
Associate members Ireland and the Netherlands - two teams who fared well at the World Cup - led a chorus of protests, asking how a World Cup could be held without the world being involved.
'It was clear everyone was opposed to only 10 teams taking part and that, too, without a qualifying process,' Cribbin said. 'I wouldn't want to speculate, but I feel the associates will press for a qualifying process or at least 12 teams at the next World Cup.'
Warren Deutrom, chief executive of Cricket Ireland, believed the issue would be resolved at the Hong Kong meeting.
'If there was to be any fudge, it would be completely unacceptable unless the conclusion was that we need a qualifier, but we don't know what that qualifier should be,' Deutrom told website Cricinfo.
'If the principle was established that a qualification tournament was to be reinstated I don't think the associates could have too much of an argument with that, and we wouldn't necessarily need to be involved in that ongoing discussion. Our argument is purely that there needs to be opportunity for the world to be involved in the World Cup,' Deutrom said.
It is also understood the threat of taking the issue to courts - many sports lawyers have said the associates have a strong case - had resulted in the ICC's turnaround.
The ICC wants the 2015 World Cup to be restricted to test-playing nations, of which there are this many: 10