The banning of top seeds, the United States, by the International Cricket Council (ICC) from taking part in the World Cricket League Division Three tournament in May, could pave the way for Hong Kong's entry into the next round of qualifying for the 2011 World Cup.
The ICC suspended the US last week after the American governing body failed to hold elections and put in place a constitution. This has resulted in the ICC booting the US out of the eight-team Division Three tournament to be held in Darwin, Australia, in May. It also means Hong Kong, who were originally drawn in a tough pool against Papua New Guinea (second seeds), Fiji (four) and Italy (seven), could now find themselves in the other group alongside Uganda (three), Cayman Islands (seven) and Tanzania (eight). Hong Kong are seeded fifth.
'The ICC is now thinking of calling Argentina. If Argentina agree, they will replace us in the original format while we take the place of the US in the other pool which on paper is the easier one,' said Krishna Kumar, Hong Kong Cricket Association's chairman of selectors.
'Another option open to the ICC is to stick with the remaining seven teams, and play a round robin competition with the top two qualifying for the Second Division in the World Cricket League,' said Kumar.
Hong Kong, who qualified for this tournament by virtue of reaching the finals of last year's ACC Trophy, are bidding to keep alive their dreams of qualifying for the 2011 World Cup. To do this, they have to finish in the top two in Darwin. The top 18 non-full member countries were split into three divisions by the ICC. The top tier comprises Scotland, Ireland, Bermuda, Canada, the Netherlands and Kenya.