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ICC World Group Tournaments confirmed for developing nations

Cricket below the level of the 10 ICC Full members is about to undergo a revolution

Cricket below the level of the 10 ICC Full members is about to undergo a revolution. For the first time the ICC's 27 Affiliate members and 47 Associate members will be guaranteed a regular program of competitive international cricket through the launch of the ICC's World Cup Qualifying Series (WCQS).
The innovative system is similar in principle to the Davis Cup in tennis with Regional and World Group tournaments taking place in a two-year cycle. It splits the world's developing cricket nations into small groups of similar ability with promotion and relegation at the end of each competition ensuring improving nations are rewarded.
The three qualifiers that took part in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2003 - Canada, Holland and Namibia - will meet again in Nairobi this summer along with Kenya, UAE and Scotland, in Division One of the World Group.
ICC Development Manager, Andrew Eade, said the new system will be a great boost for the Associate and Affiliate members.
"The new structure will provide increased exposure for all developing nations," said Eade.
"Countries should now be able to set realistic targets for their own national development programs and measure the results on the field against other countries at a similar stage of development."
In 2003 the World Group kicks off with 27 nations taking part in four different tournaments between July and October that are based on merit, not geographical location.
Veteran Holland captain Roland Lefebvre believes his nation may have improved more quickly if they had been exposed to this type of more regular competition.
"The only way to become a stronger cricket nation is to play on a regular basis against stronger opponents. The World Cup Qualifying Series will be such an opportunity," said Lefebvre.
The top three divisions each have six teams and there will be promotion and relegation between the first and last team of each division. Division Four is different in that there will initially be nine teams and, significantly, the bottom six teams will have to re-qualify for the 2005 World Group by beating the Affiliate nations within their region.
In 2004 each of the ICC development regions - Africa, Americas, Asia, East Asia-Pacific and Europe - will host a Regional WCQS tournament. In these tournaments the local Affiliate members will compete against any teams from their region that were relegated from Division Four in 2003.
The winning team from each regional tournament will qualify for the World Group Division Four in 2005.
The ICC Trophy will still feature prominently in the calendar for Associate nations. In 2005 the top 12 WCQS teams from 2003 will contest the title - that is the six teams from Division One, the top five teams from Division Two and the winners of Division Three.
The inaugural World Group tournaments will take place between July and October 2003 in Kenya, USA, Malaysia and Italy.
Division One, Nairobi: Kenya, Holland, Namibia, Canada, UAE, Scotland
Division Two, Los Angeles: Ireland, Denmark, USA, Bermuda, Uganda, Nepal
Division Three, Kuala Lumpur: Malaysia, Hong Kong, Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Singapore, Argentina
Division Four, Rome: Italy, Germany, Nigeria, Tanzania, Gibraltar, Israel, France, East and Central Africa, Cayman Islands
ICC Development Manager, Andrew Eade, and ICC High Performance Manager, Bob Woolmer, are both available for interview for those media wishing to find out more about the WCQS tournaments and the ICC Development Program.