The 50-over World Cup occurs every four years and is considered to be the pinnacle of limited-overs cricket. Every nation, when they commence playing cricket, aim to participate in the World Cup.
It’s a perfect platform for Associate nations to showcase their skills and mettle to the whole world. Over the years, there have been numerous occasions when so-called minnows have humbled some of the more fancied teams in the tournament. This is the beauty World Cup cricket has to offer.
The 2015 World Cup, hosted by Australia and New Zealand, had 14 participating teams. The likes of Afghanistan and Ireland played their hearts out and earned accolades from the cricketing fraternity.
However, Dave Richardson, CEO of the International Cricket Council (ICC) has decided to bring down the number of teams to 10 in the 2019 Cricket World Cup to be held in England. He has highlighted commercial factors as reasons for cutting down the number of teams.
He also threw light on the fact that games featuring the Associate members attract less viewership, which affects cricket as a brand. He mentioned that the World Cup should feature the best teams from across the globe to make it more captivating.
Even the likes of Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and Martin Crowe voiced their opinions on the matter. The decision didn’t go down well with the Associate members as they considered the move to be against the globalisation of cricket and development of the Associate nations.
With the number of teams reducing to 10, the qualification process has also been altered.
Step 1 – Automatic Qualification
The host nation and the top seven teams qualify directly for the main tournament. However, there’s a deadline for qualification after which automatic entry into the tournament ends.
30th September, 2017: The ICC One Day International Rankings on the afore-mentioned date will be taken into account for the initial qualifiers.
Rankings as per July 10, 2017
As per the rankings, the top five teams look pretty comfortably placed for direct entry. However, the 6th, 7th and 8th ranked teams still have plenty of work to do. West Indies are currently sitting at number 9 in the rankings with 78 points, 10 shy of Sri Lanka who have 88 points.
However, they will be playing a one-off ODI against Ireland and a 5-match ODI series against 4th ranked England. A decent showing might see them edge past the 8th-ranked side. On the other hand, Sri Lanka will be locking horns with India in a 5-match ODI series in August, which might decide their fate.
Pakistan and Bangladesh won’t be playing any international games during this period. Their chances hang in the balance too as West Indies and Sri Lanka might just make the cut if they manage to beat England and India respectively.
Step 2 – 2018 ICC World Cup Qualifiers
The 2018 Cricket World Cup Qualifiers are scheduled to take place from March 1 to April 4, 2018. Hosting rights were initially with Bangladesh but later moved to Ireland and England. There will be 10 nations participating in the tournament.
The event will have two groups, each with five teams. The participating teams will be drafted from three different zones.
The four lowest-ranked teams from the ICC ODI Championship will automatically qualify for the event. Afghanistan, Ireland and Zimbabwe are certain to play the qualifiers. The other team will be decided after 30th September 2017.
The top four teams in the ICC World Cricket League Championship, which is currently taking place, will qualify for the qualifiers of the main event in 2019. Netherlands, Papua New Guinea, Scotland, Hong Kong, Kenya, Nepal, Namibia and the United Arab Emirates are presently the eight participating teams.
Also, the two finalists of the ICC World Cricket League Division Two will take part in the qualifiers. The tournament is scheduled to be played in 2018. There will be six participating teams. Oman and Canada, the top two teams in the 2017 ICC World Cricket League Division Three, are eligible to play in the league. The bottom four teams from the ICC World Cricket League Championship will form the other four entrants.
A crucial couple of years
In today’s fast paced world, two years can pass in a blink of an eye. It seems like yesterday that Australia defeated New Zealand at Melbourne Cricket Ground to lift their fifth World Cup title.
In general, we find all the Test playing nations participating in the 50-over World Cup. After Afghanistan and Ireland’s promotion to full-member nations, there are 12 Test playing countries. However, due to the 10-team rule, two of them might not find a place in the main event.