ICC news April 19, 2011

Associates to step up pressure, force ICC U-turn

The Associate countries are confident of contesting the ICC's decision to block their access to the 2015 World Cup after receiving advice from prominent sports lawyers. They plan on mobilising opinion ahead of the ICC's meeting in June and have not ruled out the legal option.

The ICC was roundly criticised by the non-Test-playing countries after the decision was announced on April 4, two days after the World Cup final, but having worked closely together since, the Associates are hopeful of a rethink. They sent a letter to the ICC outlining their case and the ICC has since announced it will revisit the issue during its board meeting in June.

"The lack of response in those two weeks probably meant they realised they were defending the indefensible," Warren Deutrom, Cricket Ireland's CEO told ESPNcricinfo. "The ICC management are a very careful and expert bunch, and they will have done their homework. I know a lot of people have been telling us over the two weeks how strong our position would be if external remedies were necessary, although we don't want to get to that stage, we want it to be the last resort.

Richard Cox, the chief executive of the Royal Netherlands Cricket Board, explained how the Associate response has developed.

"A number of the countries have been speaking about the manner of which we might approach the situation though our delegated ICC reps," he told ESPNcricinfo's Switch Hit show.

"We've done a great deal of research over the last week, particularly Warren Deutrom of Ireland, had a lot of letters of support, and we've also had some experienced sports lawyers contacting us offering us help, examples of history and precedents for cases such as this.

"On that basis we felt we were at least able to contest the decision around qualification and the opportunity to qualify which is what we've done. We'd like to have the opportunity to discuss the matter and for our representatives Neil Speight, Keith Oliver and Imran Khwaja to sit with people from officer and board level at the ICC to resolve it amicably."

Though a challenge through the courts remains a last resort, Cox hopes the pressure generated by the public response, alongside the backroom work being done by the Associate boards can lead to a change in thinking from the ICC before the June meeting.

"Our thinking is to keep this matter on the table and high on people's agendas, high on the media's agenda," he said. "Although June is a month away, if we can continue to work behind the scenes in the way we have over the last 10 days then who knows when it could be resolved. In an ideal world you'd want it resolved more quickly than June but if that's what it takes to get everybody round the table than we'll follow the proper course of action."

Netherlands were one of the stronger Associate sides during the recent World Cup and Cox believes that only greater exposure at international level will help them develop.

"What it demonstrated to us was that with more experience at this level we'd be able to cope with the standard of cricket on a regular basis. So to get the news last was a real body blow not just for us but for any number of nations who aspire to play in a World Cup.

"It was really a backwards step for us when they made that decision and that's why we've taken our time to look at it carefully and go through the proper processes to contest the decision and get it overturned."

Andrew Miller is UK editor of ESPNcricinfo