HONG KONG // UAE cricket received a boost yesterday as world cricket's governing body opened the door for non-Test playing nations to compete in the next World Cup, reversing a bar that had outraged "minnows" such as Ireland, Holland and the Emirates.
The International Cricket Council (ICC) said its chief executives' committee had recommended a qualifying process for the 2015 tournament, without specifying how many teams it wanted to see taking part.
The recommendation rows back on the ICC's unpopular decision to limit the 2015 World Cup, in Australia and New Zealand, to the 10 full-member teams — excluding Ireland, the Netherlands, Canada, Kenya and other countries.
"The CEC recommended that there should be a qualification process for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 but did not make a recommendation to the ICC executive board on the number of teams that should compete in the event to be held in Australia and New Zealand," the ICC said in a statement on its website following a two-day meeting at a glitzy hotel in downtown Hong Kong.
Sharad Pawar, the ICC president, had asked his board to discuss the matter at the conference, with the governing body looking to avoid a repeat of the seven-week World Cup, deemed by some critics as unnecessarily lengthy.
Officials are believed to be in favour of retaining a 10-team limit but a qualifying tournament would give minor nations a chance of reaching the event.
At the 2007 World Cup, Ireland caused one of the biggest shocks in World Cup history by beating Pakistan on their way to the Super 8 stage and they followed that up with victory over England in the 2011 tournament earlier this year. The Netherlands also beat England in the competition held in India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.
The UAE, who last played in the 50-over tournament in 1996, were just one victory away from qualifying for the 2011 World Cup. They came seventh in the eight-team final qualifying tournament in 2009, but were only two points off a qualification berth.
Before yesterday's announcement, their chances of reaching the 2015 World Cup were slim to none.
LESS OF POWERPLAY
The CEC also agreed to restrict the elective powerplays in One-Day Internationals — two blocks of five overs when only two fielders are allowed outside the 30-yard circle -- to between the 16th and 40th overs of each innings and also to the use of two new balls per innings, one from each end.
Powerplays, introduced in 2005 to add excitement to the 50-over format, place restrictions on fielding positions and are designed to give a temporary advantage to the batting side.
ICC Chief Executive Haroon Lorgat said: "Even though the success of 50-over cricket played during the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 was universally acknowledged, the CEC rightly supported the enhancements recommended by the ICC Cricket Committee to strengthen the format further, including encouraging members to trial some specific innovations in their domestic cricket."
The committee approved recommendations to continue research into the use of different colour balls in day/night Test matches and the directive that batsmen can be given out for obstructing the field if they change their direction when running between the wicket to block a run-out chance.