The ICC has announced that the ICC Intercontinental Cup will return to being a single-division, biennial eight-team, first-class tournament, and at the same time has scrapped the less-than-popular Intercontinental Shield.
The sixth staging of the tournament is scheduled to run from May 2011 until December 2012 with the top six Associate and Affiliate teams with ODI status from 2009-2012 automatically included, namely Afghanistan, Canada, Ireland, Kenya, Netherlands and Scotland.
The remaining two places will be determined by the ICC Development Committee from the top four teams of the ICC World Cricket League Division 2 event which is scheduled for April 2011 in Dubai.
WCL Division 2 is currently made up of Bermuda, Namibia, UAE and Uganda with two qualifiers to proceed from WCL Division 3 (scheduled for 22-29 January 2011). The Cup will again be played on a round-robin basis with the top two teams progressing towards the final.
ICC Global Development Manager Matthew Kennedy said: "Due to the Zimbabwe XI no longer participating, it has been decided to revert to the previous Intercontinental Cup structure of eight teams with more guaranteed games for all. In making this decision, consideration was given to the international cricket opportunities now provided to all 95 Associate and Affiliate Members across all three formats of the game.
"With balancing these formats in mind, it is important to offer the best non-Test-playing nations the opportunity to compete in meaningful multi-day cricket. And as a result of this expanded I Cup, the second division that was the ICC Intercontinental Shield is no longer required."
In addition, the ICC Development Committee has allocated the staging of two Pepsi ICC WCL events to Malaysia (Division 6 in September 2011) and Singapore (Division 5 in February 2012).
It has also been decided that the first 16-team ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier, which will determine the six teams to join the ten Full Members at the ICC World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka in September 2012, will be staged in the UAE in the early part of 2012.
Following the conclusion of WCL Division 4 in Italy in August and the subsequent global rankings, the Development Committee has confirmed that the regional Twenty20 qualification systems through 2011 will provide the ten teams that will join the six ODI nations in the WT20 Qualifier. The teams would be drawn from Asia (3), Europe (2), Africa (2), Americas (2) and East Asia - Pacific (1).