Tourney may open door to World Cup

PUBLISHED : Monday, 16 May, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 16 May, 2011, 12:00am


Hong Kong's hopes of playing in the 2015 World Cup have been boosted after the International Cricket Council hinted it will revert to a qualifying process for associate members.

The ICC's cricket committee has recommended there be a qualifying tournament for the 2015 World Cup, with a final decision to be taken next month in Hong Kong by the executive committee at the ICC annual conference.

'We could be playing for a place at the 2015 World Cup,' Hong Kong Cricket Association secretary John Cribbin said. 'Of course it will depend on the final format they choose, if they decide to go ahead with a qualifying tournament.' Cribbin said it would make sense for the ICC to stick to the process already set in place vis-?vis the World Cricket League structure, where the 95 countries - associates and affiliates - outside the 10 test-playing nations are grouped into several divisions.

Hong Kong are in division two, having finished in the top four last month in Dubai, along with Uganda, the United Arab Emirates and Papua New Guinea. If the ICC decides to stay with the existing format, the top four teams in division two would join the top six teams in division one - Ireland, Scotland, the Netherlands, Kenya, Canada and Afghanistan - to play in a World Cup qualifier in 2013 in Scotland.

'The approved World Cricket League plan is essentially the World Cup qualifying process for 2015,' Cribbin said. 'Or it was, until April, when the ICC's executive board decided it would only be the 10 test-playing nations that participate at the next World Cup.'

Associate members accused the ICC of having a World Cup without the rest of the world having a chance to enter it and it was forced to backtrack.

The associates were given a ray of hope when ICC president Sharad Pawar requested a rethink of the tournament's composition and said it should be reassessed at the annual conference in Hong Kong from June 26 to 30.

'It is certainly encouraging the ICC is open to discussion,' Hong Kong coach Charlie Burke said. 'As a coach, it gives great belief to share with the players that they could one day be playing on the biggest stage of all.

'Our guys have really progressed and now sit in 20th [position] in the world. It's no longer a distant dream that we could possibly play in a World Cup. Let's hope the ICC makes the best decision soon,' Burke said.