More ODIs for Associate countries
The ICC announced a dramatic increase in the programme of one-day internationals for the six Associate Member countries that will participate in the 2007 World Cup.
The six sides - Bermuda, Canada, Ireland, Kenya, Netherlands and Scotland - are expected to play at least 64 ODI matches before the World Cup begins in March 2007, including scheduled matches against Full Member countries.
Malcolm Speed, the ICC's chief executive, said that the new programme was an essential step in the development of the sport in these countries. "The ICC is delighted to be able to announce such a dramatic increase in the number of ODI matches to be played by these Associate Member countries. It is essential that their top players are exposed to regular competitive international cricket if they are to continue to develop and this is a very significant step in the right direction."
The schedule will begin with five ODIs for Kenya in Zimbabwe from 25 February and all six countries will have tasted ODI action before the end of June this year. The pre-World Cup schedule includes home matches for Ireland against England; Scotland v Pakistan and Netherlands v Sri Lanka.
In addition, all six associate members will contest the inaugural ICC World Cricket League Division One tournament in Kenya in January 2007.
ICC Global Development Manager, Matthew Kennedy, said that the schedule demonstrated the commitment of the international cricket community to the development of the game.
"This is a very exciting time for the development of cricket beyond its traditional boundaries," Kennedy said. "To have in place a regular schedule of ODI cricket for these six countries is a major achievement for the sport and I would like to thank the Full Members for their support of the developing nations in this initiative. These matches will complement the highly-successful first class competition, the ICC Intercontinental Cup, to provide a comprehensive and challenging international calendar for the top Associate Member countries."
One of the aims of the ODI schedule is to provide, on average, a home and away cricket event against Full Member opposition for Kenya and Scotland on an annual basis and at least one home or away event against a Full Member for the other four nations in the same timeframe. The schedule will see seven Full Member countries hosting or participating in matches involving Associate Members before the World Cup while other countries have indicated their commitment to post-World Cup involvement.
Speed added that this Associate Member scheduling had been developed alongside ongoing negotiations regarding the ICC Future Tours Program. "These arrangements have been made within the wider context of the ICC Future Tours Program negotiations that are currently addressing a potential move from a five-year cycle to six-years. In scheduling these matches, all parties have been very conscious of ensuring that they should not have a negative impact on the workload of players from the Full Member countries."
The scheduling of Associate Member cricket is part of ICC Global Development Program's High Performance Program which has committed $500,000 of funding to each of these six countries through to 2009.