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There remains uncertainty about which three sides will make up the numbers in the ECB’s new-old40-over tournament in 2010. While Scotland are sure to be there, pending a formal announcement from the rather secretive England board, and rumours abound the Netherlands have also been offered a place, it seems increasingly likely that Ireland will turn down the chance.
While there is no certainty the Netherlands would accept either – although for them not to do so after so many years of pushing for a place would be rather odd – Ireland are increasingly uneasy with entry to a 40-over tournament when the bulk of their cricket – at least their cricket that matters – is over 50 overs. Their other worry is the increasingly packed international schedule and how another 12 matches would fit in with that. With games at weekends, it would mean ODIs and Intercontinental Cup matches, for example, would be shoved to midweek slots.
Any answer is likely in the next few weeks. If Ireland say no, it makes the Netherlands’ participation even more important for the ECB. It is already facing the need to find an extra team – a Minor Counties XI or a British Universities XI are the favourites – but to find two fillers would leave the competition looking rather desperate before it had even got off the drawing board.
Martin Williamson is executive editor of ESPNcricinfo and managing editor of ESPN Digital Media in Europe, the Middle East and AfricaFeeds: Martin Williamson
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Executive editor Martin Williamson joined the Wisden website in its planning stages in 2001 after failing to make his millions in the internet boom when managing editor of Sportal. Before that he was in charge of Sky Sports Online and helped launch and run Sky News Online. With a preference for all things old (except his wife and children), he has recently confounded colleagues by displaying an uncharacteristic fondness for Twenty20 cricket. His enthusiasm for the game is sadly not matched by his ability, but he remains convinced that he might be a late developer and perseveres in the hope of an England call-up with his middle-order batting and non-spinning offbreaks. He is now managing editor of ESPN EMEA Digital Group as well as his Cricinfo responsibilities.