ICC considers 12-team World Cup for 2015
Twelve teams may contest the 2015 World Cup as the ICC is considering a compromise between the 14 teams of 2011 and a tight 10-team model currently on the table for the tournament's next edition.
The ICC's executive council is meeting in Mumbai on Monday and on the agenda is the format for the next World Cup, to be hosted by Australia and New Zealand, following the rousing success of this year's edition, which was won by India.
Following much discussion of the 10-team tournament favoured by organisers, and an outcry by Associate nations given their likely exclusion, the ICC may now be leaning towards a 12-team event, possibly with two pools of six teams followed by quarter-finals, semis and the final.
"At the moment it is still 10 teams but we are discussing the 12-team option," an ICC official told ESPNcricinfo.
The same format was used in the 1996 tournament, co-hosted by India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka and won by the Sri Lankans. Another path is to choose a round-robin model where each team plays each other once before the semi-finals, as was the case when Australia and New Zealand hosted in 1992.
Prior to his team's departure for Bangladesh, new Australian captain Michael Clarke reiterated the desire of most international players to see Associate nations given their chance on the limited-overs game's biggest stage.
"I really enjoy seeing the minnow teams getting an opportunity to be honest, I guess it's up to the ICC to work out whatever they think is for the betterment of the game, that's obviously their priority," Clarke said in Sydney.
"For me I think the two World Cups I've been involved in have been fantastic, it certainly does feel between games like you have a long period, when you've got six and seven days between games, but I've enjoyed seeing some of the minnow teams or all of the minnow teams play.
"I think we've seen throughout this World Cup that there were a few upsets and some great cricket played, so I just hope and am certain that the ICC are looking to improve the game of cricket."
Haroon Lorgat, the ICC chief executive, said the executive council meeting would finalise much of the discussions surrounding the next event, plans for which are already being mapped out by the Cricket Australia and New Zealand Cricket."The length of 50 overs will find certain teams out but I think there are 10 teams that can seriously compete in that format," Lorgat told Sky Sports News. "That's a debate we are still finalising; in fact the board meeting over the next two days will consider that and will determine which teams will play in the 2015 World Cup."
Ireland were the best Associate nation at each of the past two tournaments, and their chief executive Warren Deutrom had said the deferral of a decision on the tournament format until after the 2011 event was a sensible one.
"I think that is the right decision," Deutrom said. "What it does is allow the ICC board to make a decision based on all the evidence, rather than no evidence whatsoever. We are pleased because if two or three teams do perform well during the group stages, that does provide an option to look favourably on qualification, and to see if the number of teams is quite right."
Daniel Brettig and Nagraj Gollapudi are assistant editors at ESPNcricinfo