Tapping the existing base in the Pacific Islands for derivatives of cricket has the potential to open up vast areas for the development of the game.

ICC East Asia-Pacific manager Matthew Kennedy told a New Zealand Cricket development conference in Christchurch today that the potential exhibited in the region during the recent Pacifica Cup tournament, won by New Zealand Maori, was only the start of development efforts.

Much will depend on a decision over what the Associate and Affiliate members agree should be a World Cup structure.

One suggestion has been an expansion of the traditional ICC Trophy tournament which finds three teams to attend the World Cup every four years, although in future as many as five associates may be included in the world event.

That would allow for regional tournaments, such as the Pacifica Cup, to be played every two years.

The second option was to have a world cricket league where the associates and affiliates were ranked from one to 62. That provides problems of its own however. Seeding teams from one to six and seven to 12 was fine, based on the performances at the ICC Trophy.

But ranking teams from 13 to 62 was much more difficult. The issue of whether a New Zealand Maori, and a New Zealand Islands, team take part in regional tournaments was an issue for New Zealand Cricket.

Another issue in the East Asia-Pacific region is a request from Hong Kong/China to go with the Asian region. That would involve them more in the richer Asian development region which on its own receives half the funding development allocation from the ICC.

Kennedy, an Australian who works out of the ACB headquarters in Melbourne, said the Pacific offered a prime area for development because of the cricket culture that exists already and the spaces that were available in which to play the game.

One of the most productive areas for development was Papua New Guinea.

"They have truckloads of players and a real cricket culture. They receive Australian television and get all the cricket, and the players are naturally talented.

"Japan is our target for the next affiliate members in our region. They have seven competitions and 30-35 teams, and for the first time this year locals and ex-pats have united to play each other," he said.

What Kennedy did ask for from the delegates attending the three-day meeting from each of New Zealand's major associations was to consider entering into a partnership with one of the emerging countries in the same way that Auckland has done with Samoa and Tonga.

Victoria has links with Japan and South Korea and New South Wales is linked to Fiji and Vanuatu.

This was a way of providing any old playing kit, advice or experience to those countries and whatever was offered was bound to be appreciated by those countries, he said.

Support provided by the ICC to the countries was not just a monetary handout but more in the field of support and that had been well received to date.

Kennedy said the establishment of practice nets in Samoa and Tonga, the first such facilities, and the development of a ground and practice facilities in Fiji had made a big difference to those countries and would make a difference in the future.