Cricket Ireland have welcomed International Cricket Council president Sharad Pawar’s decision to reopen the debate about the structure of the 2015 World Cup but remain aware that the argument is a long way from won.
After their inspiring efforts in the sub-continent this year, Ireland were perceived as the main victim of the ICC executive board’s ruling that the competition would be reduced from 14 teams to 10 in four years’ time – with only full member nations invited to take part.
Opposition to that decision emerged immediately, with representatives from the likes of Ireland, Holland, Canada and Kenya joined by cricket fans from across the globe in questioning plans to dispense with any World Cup qualification until 2019.
Having made their protests to Pawar over the weekend, as well as submitting a detailed document arguing their case, the non-Test playing nations have been buoyed by news that the president has requested the ICC executive board reconsider their plans for the tournament.
Cricket Ireland chief executive Warren Deutrom, who has been central to negotiations, is pleased by the developments but remains aware that the ICC officials charged with making the decision are the same as last time.
“It is encouraging that the president has reopened this issue but there is still a way to go. This is a positive step but we’re cautious about it because it is the same 10 people having the same debate about the same issues,” he told Press Association Sport.
“We (the 95 associate and affiliate members) have asked to assist in that process and requested for our elected representatives to meet the ICC president and/or the vice-president to put our case, so that they can see the strength of our resolve on this matter.
“There is a long way to go and it is down to how much momentum can be kept up, either through the media or through the public, who have been strong and unanimous in their views.”
Deutrom said the associate and affiliate nations have been pleased by the support in the wider cricketing community but condemned the executive board members for misjudging that mood in their initial decision.
“The depth of reaction has demonstrated that they neglected to consider their duty to the sport as a whole,” he said.
“It’s a shame that it takes global condemnation and a damaged reputation to revisit the decision but the board clearly did not exercise its responsibility to the vast majority of the cricketing public.”
Like Ireland, Holland acquitted themselves well at times in the recent World Cup and Richard Cox, chief executive of the Netherlands Cricket Board, was one of those involved in making the case to the ICC.
He said: “We have been working feverishly behind the scenes to ascertain the status of the decision that was made.
“We believe it is a decision which can be challenged and by doing so through our representatives on the ICC board we have made representations, the outcome being that they are now prepared to look again at it.”
Asked whether the associate nations had requested a preferred format as part of their discussions with the ICC, Cox said: “We don’t think it is our responsibility or our right to ask for 10 teams or 12 teams; what we are fundamentally agreed on is that the process of having a qualifying procedure is fundamentally appropriate for an organisation that represents 105 member countries.”
Announcing his intention to put the World Cup format back to the board for evaluation, Pawar said: “I have given this matter further serious thought and will request the board to consider this topic once more.
“I can understand the views of the associates and affiliates and ICC will seek to deal with this issue in the best way possible.”