Canada coach Pubudu Dassanayake has lamented the proposal by the ICC to cut down on the number of teams in the next World Cup, calling it a major setback for cricket's smaller nations.

Dassanayake, who played 11 Tests and 16 one-day internationals for Sri Lanka before moving to Canada, made the comments after ICC chief executive Haroon Lorgat said there will be no going back on the decision to reduce the number of teams at the 2015 event from 14 to 10, in effect squeezing Associate nations out of the tournament.

"We are hugely disappointed and the decision is a big setback for teams like us," Dassanayake told reporters after his team's practice ahead of their opening match against Sri Lanka on Sunday. "Actually the ICC has helped us a lot in the last couple of years to come to this place and this decision will hurt countries like us."

There has been growing criticism over the ICC's decision from other minor nations such as Kenya, Afghanistan and Ireland, while several leading cricketers from Test-playing nations, such as Graeme Swann, Shaun Tait and AB de Villiers, have also come out in support of the 'minnows'.

A common thread, reiterated by Dassanayake, was that smaller cricketing nations desperately need opportunities such as the World Cup in order to improve.

"Right now we are in a situation where we have lots of talent in the country and we are not that far from the full member countries when you compare the facilities we have, that's good progress," he said. "It would have been nice to play continuously. If the ICC has decided we can't help it but it's a severe setback for us."