Perennial under-achievers Zimbabwe will be part of the 2015 International Cricket Council (ICC) World Cup after the international body re-affirmed its decision on Monday to reduce the size of the tournament from 14 to 10 teams.
The meeting took place in the Taj Mahal Palace in Mumbai, India, and was also attended by Zimbabwe Cricket chairman Peter Chingoka.
The ICC announced that associate nations, such as Kenya, Canada, Ireland and the Netherlands, would not be involved in the 2015 edition of the Cricket World Cup, with the tournament reserved for the ICC’s 10 full members.
Australia, Bangladesh, England, India, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka, West Indies and Zimbabwe will be the only teams competing at the event as full ICC members.
The 2011 tournament, which was won by co-host India last Saturday, featured 14 teams and took 43 days to complete, prompting criticism that it was too long. The 2015 edition will be held in Australia and New Zealand.
The decision has infuriated Ireland, who believe they have always been better performers than Zimbabwe in the world cricket showcase.
Warren Deutrom, the Cricket Ireland chief executive, said: “The conclusion can only be reached that the decisions made today (Monday) were based purely on the protection of the existing membership entitlements for full members and the commercial imperative that a 10-team event delivers nine guaranteed matches for India and England,” Deutrom told ESPNcricinfo.
“It’s nothing short of outrageous. All of the principles by which a decision should have been made in the first instance, which is what’s best for the sport and what’s acting in the best interests of all 105 members, have clearly been abandoned today.
“And after such a terrific event, and the wonderful occasion of the final, where the sport was incredible and regarded in such glowing terms around the world, I’m afraid this is an absolute black day for the sport. It’s a genuinely awful decision that has been reached.
“Every avenue is going to be looked into. This decision could have serious implications both for our playing and financial strength. Our reward for beating England in this year’s World Cup is to be excluded from the next one.
“Sometimes, people are accused of indulging in conspiracy theories, but in this instance two and two do make four. We will continue to fight this and we don’t believe this is a dead issue yet.
“The chairman of the associates has sent a memo out to all 95 non-Test playing countries to notify them of the decision and to say the six elected representatives who sit on the two main ICC committees will be liaising to talk about the course of action we need to take.”
Ireland’s case was however not helped by the weak performances of Kenya, the Netherlands and Canada, with the ICC’s chief executive, Haroon Lorgat, observing: “To some extent, we may say that we are disappointed with the way Kenya and Canada have played. In some sense, they have gone backwards in their performance.”
At the meeting, the ICC executive board also agreed to donate $1m from the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 to New Zealand Cricket to allow them to re-establish their offices after their original premises were destroyed in the February 22 2011 earthquake.
The ICC executive board will also propose certain changes to the ICC constitution at its 2011 annual conference in Hong Kong, applicable from July 2012, designed to prevent undue interference by governments in the administration of cricket in member countries, including but not limited to interference in operational matters, the selection and management of teams, the appointment of coaches or support personnel or the activities of a member.
An internationally renowned company has been appointed to review the operations of the ICC Anti-Corruption and Security Unit (ACSU) as part of the learnings following the Pakistan spot-fixing allegations.
Sir Ronnie Flanagan, the ACSU chairman, reported that the initial recommendations following this review would be presented to the board in June.