Wisden Cricinfo staff
Ireland will host the ICC Trophy in 2005. Ehsan Mani, the ICC president, and Malcolm Speed, the chief executive, signed an agreement confirming this. The eighth edition of the tournament, which will involve 12 teams, will be held in July 2005 and the majority of the matches will be around Belfast and Dublin. Mani and Speed visited both cities and received a briefing on the preparations for the event.
The 2005 ICC Trophy will have more at stake for the participating nations than earlier editions. As many as five places at the next World Cup in the West Indies will be up for grabs for the competing teams.
Mani said that he was very pleased that the Irish Cricket Union (ICU) was planning to host matches in both centres. "Throughout its history, the ICU has operated as a unified body and I am delighted that matches will be staged in both the north and south of the island."
The ICU has received significant support from the clubs, provincial unions and governments, both north and south of the border, in its preparations. The ICU's chairman, Joe Doherty, was elated with the announcement and termed it a "momentous day" in the history of cricket in Ireland. He added: "A lot of hard work has already been put in to get us this far, and we now look forward to tackling the remaining stages of preparation and welcoming teams from all corners of the cricket world."
The last ICC Trophy was held in Canada in 2001, with Holland emerging as champions in a tense final against Namibia. Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe and Bangladesh have all won this tournament previously, which enhanced their chances of being granted Test status.