World Twenty20 2012 February 23, 2011

Qualifying begins for World Twenty20

ESPNcricinfo staff

While Associate nations ponder a future that may not include being part of the World Cup, some of the game's least well-known nations take their first steps towards what they hope can ultimately be a place at the expanded 2012 World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka.

Although the 2015 World Cup is set to be trimmed to 10 teams this has been balanced to some degree by the expansion of the Twenty20 event which will increase from the 12 sides that took part in 2010 to 16 for the next tournament.

However, it is highly unlikely that the seven countries who begin the qualifying campaign on February 24 will reach the showpiece event next year. Cameroon, Gambia, Lesotho, Mali, Morocco, Rwanda and the Seychelles will play in an initial qualifier in Ghana at the end of this month.

Sixteen teams will take part in the final global qualifier in UAE in early 2012 to decide the final places at the World Twenty20. The six Associate and Affiliate members with one-day international status - Afghanistan, Canada, Ireland, Kenya, the Netherlands and Scotland - have automatically qualified for the UAE event.

Three teams from the Asia region, two teams from Africa, Americas and Europe, and one team from East Asia-Pacific will play in the global qualifying event.

In 2010 in the Caribbean the two Associate and Affiliate nations involved were Ireland and Afghanistan. Although neither progressed to the Super Eights, Ireland caused England problems in Guyana and Afghanistan performed with great credit during their first global tournament.