ICC impressed by improving Associates
Richard Done, ICC's High Performance Manager, has labelled the recent World Twenty20 Qualifiers in Ireland "a great success" while paying tribute to the hosts, Cricket Ireland.
The top Associates did battle with 11 matches over four days in Belfast, with Ireland and Netherlands - a surprise package this year - qualifying for next year's ICC World Twenty20 in England. Third-placed Scotland will also appear, should Zimbabwe adhere to global pressure and step down from the competition. However, there was no place for Kenya, the favourites, whose tour of Britain has lurched from one disappointment to another.
Despite the low scores which characterised most of the games, Done insisted that this highlighted the quality of bowling on show.
"It was disappointing to see the final being rained-off but apart from that, I think the tournament was excellently organized and we saw some very exciting matches with the ball dominating the bat," he said. "This event gave the top six Associate sides a chance to qualify for the main event in England next year through playing in the Twenty20 format.
"This was a good progression considering that for the inaugural ICC World Twenty20 2007 in South Africa, Kenya and Scotland qualified on their performance in the 50-over-a-side ICC World Cricket League Division 1 in Nairobi.
"As for the bottom three sides [Kenya, Canada and Bermuda], they can assess what went wrong and work towards to the opportunity to re-qualify for the 2011 World Cup through the qualifier in 2009."
If Zimbabwe confirms they won't play in the World Twenty20, Ireland will take their place in Group A (with India and Bangladesh); the Netherlands will ease into Group B (with England and Pakistan) and Scotland, who beat Kenya in the third and fourth-place play-off on Monday, take position in Group D (with South Africa and New Zealand).
However, if Zimbabwe go back on their decision and play, Ireland will join Group B and the Netherlands will be placed in Group D.