The ICC and the Irish Cricket Union have named 25 venues for matches in the 2005 ICC Trophy scheduled in Ireland for July next summer. Five of the twelve sides participating will qualify for the World Cup in 2007.
The tournament will be the eighth of its kind, and the 25 venues are spread around Ireland. The final will take place at Castle Avenue, Clontarf, where Ireland defeated Surrey by five wickets in the 2004 C&G Trophy. Forty-two matches are scheduled overall: the ones in the group phase are scheduled to take place in the north, the ones in the knockout stages in the south. No side will be eliminated from the competition at the group stage, but the rest of the matches will help decide an overall ranking of the teams participating.
Group A is made up of Bermuda, Denmark, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, United States and the host nation, Ireland. In group B, five of the six places have been decided: Canada, Holland, Namibia, Scotland and Oman. The last spot will go to the winner of the ICC World Cup Qualifying Series (WCQS) that will take place in Malaysia next February. Oman, an affiliate member of ICC, had some strong performances in the Asia Cricket Council Cup and have qualifed for the ICC Trophy for the first time. They did so ahead of Hong Kong and Fiji, both Associate Members which will now hope to be progress from the WCQS.
Ehsan Mani, the president of ICC, was pleased at the announcement: "The ICC is delighted that the games will be played at such a variety of venues as it means that no ground will be played on too frequently and that will augur well for the state of the pitches.
"It is obviously a hugely important aspect of the tournament," he added, "not least because five of the 12 countries will qualify for the ICC World Cup in the West Indies in 2007."
However, John Wright, the secretary of the Irish Cricket Union and the tournament director, sounded a warning: "We received more acceptances [for acceptable-standard grounds] than were required so, inevitably, some clubs will be disappointed. However, such is the enthusiasm for the tournament that some of these clubs have offered their facilities for 'warm-up' games."
Three previous winners of the ICC Trophy have gone on to win Test status. Sri Lanka, who won in 1979, became a Test country in 1981-82. Zimbabwe played their first Test against India in 1992-93 after triumphing in 1982, 1986 and 1990, while Bangladesh, who won in 1997 after a last-ball victory against Kenya in the final, became a Test nation in 2000-01.
The 25 venues are: Armagh, Bangor, Carrick, Civil Service (Stormont, Belfast), Cliftonville, Clontarf, Cooke Collegians (Belfast), Downpatrick, Drummond, Eglinton, Instonians, Leinster, Limavady, Lisburn, Lurgan, Malahide, Merrion, Muckamore, Newforge, North County, North Down, RBAI (Osborne Park, Belfast), The Hills (Dublin), Waringstown, and Woodvale.