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June 26, 2006
While 16 teams are already preparing for the World Cup in the Caribbean, Fiji, Japan and the Cook Islands are assembling in Brisbane to continue their pursuit of a place in the 2011 tournament.
The three countries - the top teams in the ICC's East Asia-Pacific (EAP) region - are set to compete for the EAP Cricket Trophy this week with the winner qualifying for the World Cricket League Division 3, to be held in early 2007.
That tournament, in turn, will lead to Division 2 (to be held in late 2007) and then Division 1, also known as the ICC World Cup Qualifier, in 2009, with the top five sides from that event securing places in the 2011 ICC Cricket World Cup in the Asian sub-continent.
"A place in the World Cricket League, which offers all Associate and Affiliate teams a pathway to qualify for the ICC Cricket World Cup, is a huge motivating factor for the developing cricket countries of East Asia and the Pacific," explained Tim Anderson, the ICC regional development manager. "Fiji, Japan and the Cook Islands deserve this opportunity and, given the rewards at stake for the winner, the EAP Cricket Trophy will be a fantastic competition."
The EAP Cricket Trophy will be hosted by Queensland Cricket and played at the Redlands Cricket Club in Brisbane.
Queensland Cricket Chief Executive Graham Dixon said: "Queensland Cricket is supportive of the ICC's aim to develop cricket globally and is actively involved in this process through our partnership with PNG Cricket. We are proud to be hosting the EAP Cricket Trophy and look forward to witnessing some great cricket," he added.
Naoki Miyaji, General Secretary of the Japan Cricket Association, said cricket in Japan would receive a huge boost if the national side was successful in the EAP Cricket Trophy.
"Cricket actually has a long history in Japan but the popularity of the sport has only started to grow in recent years," he said. "We are very excited about doing well in this tournament but understand that Fiji and the Cook Islands will provide tough competition."
The Cook Islands is the only ICC Affiliate to be competing in the EAP Cricket Trophy, with Fiji and Japan both Associate members.
"As an Affiliate Member we are delighted to have earned the opportunity to participate in the ICC World Cricket League, and certainly aren't here to make up the numbers," said Cook Islands Cricket Association President Vane Henry. "Everyone in the Cook Islands is behind our team and I have no doubt we will represent them well."
© ESPN EMEA Ltd.
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