Rohan Mustafa, middle, won the man-of-the-match award after he took two wickets and made a speedy 38 not out in the run chase against Malaysia at the Asia Cup Qualifier. Courtesy ACC
Rohan Mustafa, centre, and Ahmed Raza were two of three players fined and suspended for their comments on social media. Courtesy ACC

ICC's new ODI structure: What exactly is it and how does it help the UAE?

In what will have come as good news to UAE cricket, the International Cricket Council (ICC) this week said it was shaking up the one-day international structure.

The game’s world governing body essentially announced a new qualification pathway for the 2023 Cricket World Cup, to be held in India from February 9-March 26, but it will have a positive impact on the game – especially for the teams just below the elite level.

The initial problem

The ICC created huge controversy when it announced in 2016 that it was reducing the 2019 50-overs World Cup to just 10 teams – from the original 14 – which meant making it virtually impossible for teams outside the elite level to qualify for the game’s flagship tournament.

As a means to assuage the ‘Associate Nation’ teams, of which the UAE are one, the ICC awarded Twenty20 status to all 32 members of the ‘World Cricket League’ – or the WCL – in its clearest indication yet that T20 was its route to marketing the game globally.

As a result, however, the UAE – who had qualified for the 2015 event when it was held in Australia and New Zealand – failed to make the cut for the 2019 event, to be held in the United Kingdom.

The knock-on effect was Associate Nation teams, such as the UAE, getting fewer avenues and opportunities to play one-day international cricket, which in turn limited their chances of getting better at the format.

Put simply, the likes of the UAE were stuck in a vicious cycle.


Read more:

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ICC: New, short-format leagues will find it harder to get sanctioned in future

UAET20x: Former Australia captain Steve Smith joins star-studded line-up


‘Route to India 2023’

According to the new system, the number of teams that can qualify for the 2023 tournament will almost certainly remain the same – 10 – unless there is some movement on the part of the ICC to accommodate more sides.

That being said, it gives more opportunities to the teams to compete and improve.

How? Read on.

Three-tier system

The world’s top 32 teams (according to WCL rankings) have been divvied up into three tiers:

Tier 1 – ‘Super League’

The Super League comprises 13 teams – including the 12 Test sides (India, Australia, England, South Africa, New Zealand, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, West Indies, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Zimbabwe and Ireland) and the Netherlands.

Each team will play bilateral ODI series scheduled to take place from July 2020-2022. A total of 156 matches will be played during this period, with each team playing 24 matches.

Eight of the top-ranked teams will qualify automatically for the World Cup.

The remaining five sides will be involved in a 10-team World Cup Qualifier tournament, to be played in 2022, to pick the remaining two (but more on this later).

Tier 2 – League 2

League 2 consists of seven teams, with three of the sides confirmed – Nepal, Scotland and the UAE. They will be joined by the top four finishers in the 'WCL Division 2' tournament, which will be held in April 2019.

The seven sides will compete in 126 matches between July 2019 through to the end of 2021. Each team will play 36 ODIs in all – including six matches (three at home, three away) against each of the other six sides.

The top three sides from this tier will join the five bottom-placed teams from the Super League in the World Cup Qualifier.

The remaining four sides of League 2 will be demoted to the World Cup Qualifier Play-Off tournament, also to be held in 2022.

Tier 3 – World Cup Challenge

The ICC has divided the remaining 12 teams into two leagues of six teams each, namely the World Cup Challenge 'League A' and World Cup Challenge 'League B'.

Ninety matches will be played in each of the two leagues, with each of the six teams being involved in 15 matches each.

The winner of each league will progress to World Cup Qualifier Play-Off.

The Play-Off

This competition will pit the two league winners from the World Cup Challenge division with four bottom-placed teams from League 2.

The top two teams will qualify for the Qualifier.

The Qualifier

This final phase of qualification will include the five bottom-placed sides from the Super League, the three top-ranked sides from League 2, and the top two teams from the Play-Off. Two of the best sides will take up the remaining 2023 World Cup berths.

Why this is good for the UAE

One-word: exposure.

The UAE, who have been involved in just 46 ODIs between 1994 and 2018, will play 36 ODIs over a two-and-a-half-year period.

This will hopefully mean more exposure, more sponsorship, more money, and a greater incentive to get better.

After all, they are provided with a genuine shot at promotion to the top tier, and perhaps World Cup qualification one day.


Hong Kong 52-5 UAE
South Korea 55-5 Malaysia
Malaysia 6-70 Hong Kong
UAE 36-32 South Korea

Friday, June 21, 7.30pm kick-off: UAE v Malaysia
At The Sevens, Dubai (admission is free).
Saturday: Hong Kong v South Korea

At Everton Appearances: 77; Goals: 17

At Manchester United Appearances: 559; Goals: 253

Fourth-round clashes for British players

- Andy Murray (1) v Benoit Paire, Centre Court (not before 4pm)

- Johanna Konta (6) v Caroline Garcia (21), Court 1 (4pm)


Company: Eco Way
Started: December 2023
Founder: Ivan Kroshnyi
Based: Dubai, UAE
Industry: Electric vehicles
Investors: Bootstrapped with undisclosed funding. Looking to raise funds from outside

The biog

Name: Timothy Husband

Nationality: New Zealand

Education: Degree in zoology at The University of Sydney

Favourite book: Lemurs of Madagascar by Russell A Mittermeier

Favourite music: Billy Joel

Weekends and holidays: Talking about animals or visiting his farm in Australia


Uefa Champions League semi-finals, first leg
Liverpool v Roma

When: April 24, 10.45pm kick-off (UAE)
Where: Anfield, Liverpool
Live: BeIN Sports HD
Second leg: May 2, Stadio Olimpico, Rome

Switching sides

Mahika Gaur is the latest Dubai-raised athlete to attain top honours with another country.

Velimir Stjepanovic (Serbia, swimming)
Born in Abu Dhabi and raised in Dubai, he finished sixth in the final of the 2012 Olympic Games in London in the 200m butterfly final.

Jonny Macdonald (Scotland, rugby union)
Brought up in Abu Dhabi and represented the region in international rugby. When the Arabian Gulf team was broken up into its constituent nations, he opted to play for Scotland instead, and went to the Hong Kong Sevens.

Sophie Shams (England, rugby union)
The daughter of an English mother and Emirati father, Shams excelled at rugby in Dubai, then after attending university in the UK played for England at sevens.

Tips for newlyweds to better manage finances

All couples are unique and have to create a financial blueprint that is most suitable for their relationship, says Vijay Valecha, chief investment officer at Century Financial. He offers his top five tips for couples to better manage their finances.

Discuss your assets and debts: When married, it’s important to understand each other’s personal financial situation. It’s necessary to know upfront what each party brings to the table, as debts and assets affect spending habits and joint loan qualifications. Discussing all aspects of their finances as a couple prevents anyone from being blindsided later.

Decide on the financial/saving goals: Spouses should independently list their top goals and share their lists with one another to shape a joint plan. Writing down clear goals will help them determine how much to save each month, how much to put aside for short-term goals, and how they will reach their long-term financial goals.

Set a budget: A budget can keep the couple be mindful of their income and expenses. With a monthly budget, couples will know exactly how much they can spend in a category each month, how much they have to work with and what spending areas need to be evaluated.

Decide who manages what: When it comes to handling finances, it’s a good idea to decide who manages what. For example, one person might take on the day-to-day bills, while the other tackles long-term investments and retirement plans.

Money date nights: Talking about money should be a healthy, ongoing conversation and couples should not wait for something to go wrong. They should set time aside every month to talk about future financial decisions and see the progress they’ve made together towards accomplishing their goals.

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Keep up with all the Middle East and North Africa athletes at the 2024 Paris Olympics

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