Scotland joy at U-turn over World Cup format

SCOTLAND have a chance to play at the 2015 World Cup after all with the International Cricket Council reversing their much-derided decision to reduce the event to ten teams.

The tournament in Australia and New Zealand will now be contested by 14 teams after a dramatic U-turn at the ICC's annual conference in Hong Kong.

The ICC chief executives committee had proposed to cut four teams out of the showpiece tournament and hold the 2015 finals without any qualifying, confining it to the 10 full members who play Test cricket.

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That was attacked by high-profile figures from across the game and yesterday, on the first day of a two-day executive board meeting, qualifying was re-instated. The committee also chose to revert to the 14-team format that was the basis of a successful World Cup this year in India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.

That means talented emerging players like Scotland's Richie Berrington, Ireland's Paul Stirling and Holland's Alexei Kervezee can target the tournament in four years' time, when they will be approaching their peaks.

Cricket Scotland chief executive Roddy Smith said: "It is fantastic news and all the associates and affiliates are delighted their voices have been heard and that logic and fair play have won."

Before the controversy erupted in April, Scotland was earmarked to host the qualifying tournament for the 2015 finals in the summer of 2013. Smith said he hoped the event would now go ahead here, but he wants it deferred by 12 months.

A Scotland side in transition flopped at the last qualifying tournament in 2009, and Smith believes they would have been better equipped to compete this year than the likes of Canada and Kenya, who went downhill in the two intervening years.

Smith added: "Personally I believe that the qualifying tournament should be as close as possible to the finals. We saw at this year's World Cup that teams who had performed well in March 2009 were no longer playing at the same level.

"We would obviously like the World Cup qualifier to be held in Scotland but I would like to see it moved closer to the World Cup itself and played in 2014."

Gordon Drummond's young Scotland side have a chance to assert their World Cup credentials in two weeks' time with the visit of Sri Lanka and Ireland for a triangular series at Citylets Grange.

The 10-team format will still be introduced in England in 2019, but associate nations will at least get the opportunity to take on the bottom two full members in the one-day international rankings in a qualifying event.

The other outcome of yesterday's ICC U-turn will be that the next two World Twenty20s, in Sri Lanka (2012) and Bangladesh (2014), will comprise 12 teams, rather than the 16 proposed.