Not even a month removed from the greatest World Cup final, the road to the 2023 edition of cricket's showpiece event begins in earnest in Scotland at the inaugural tri-series of the rebranded Cricket World Cup League Two.
No more confusion trying to understand the nuances of the World Cricket League versus the World Cup Qualifier. Everything is now under one umbrella; not just the Full Members but teams ranked as low as 32 in the world have a clear-cut pathway to make it to the 2023 World Cup. It's also the first time that Full Members are forced to qualify in head-to-head league competition as opposed to rankings points. Here's how qualification for World Cup 2023 will be sorted.
Cricket World Cup ODI Super League
Teams: 12 Full Members + Netherlands Matches: 24 ODIs per team starting in May 2020
In the past, the ODI rankings table was used for qualification, but the table was unbalanced and not, intrinsically, fair. The easiest way to make sure a team below you couldn't overtake you on the rankings table - say Afghanistan or Ireland - was to simply not schedule a series against them. The rankings table also led to unbalanced fixture lists by virtue, for example, of India's current ranking based on 56 matches whereas Ireland's is based off 29 ODIs in the same time frame.
That's no longer possible in the new structure. Each of the 13 teams will have their qualification status for the 2023 World Cup determined by an equal number of matches. Each of the 13 teams will host four home and four away series, with each consisting of three ODIs, that will count toward World Cup qualification.
Due to scheduling constraints, each team will miss playing four of the 12 possible teams in the Super League.
At the end of the Super League, the top seven teams in addition to World Cup host India will qualify for the 2023 World Cup. The bottom five teams will get a second chance by dropping back into the 2022 World Cup Qualifier. The team that finishes at the bottom of the ODI Super League also runs the risk of being relegated into Cricket World Cup League Two for the 2027 World Cup qualification cycle.
Cricket World Cup League Two
Teams: Scotland, UAE, Nepal, Namibia, Oman, Papua New Guinea, USA Matches: 36 ODIs per team starting in August 2019
The seven Associate countries ranked 14-20 will each contest a total of nine tri-series over the next two and a half years. The redesigned CWC League Two guarantees each team hosts everyone for two ODIs and tours every other country for two ODIs for a total of 24 matches. The other 12 ODIs in the structure are played as neutral-site matches.
At the end of the 36 ODIs for each country, the top three teams on the points table out of the seven countries will join the bottom five teams from the ODI Super League in the 2022 World Cup Qualifier. The CWC League Two champion also has the opportunity to advance into the CWC ODI Super League for the 2027 World Cup cycle. Meanwhile, the teams that finish fourth -seventh in League Two fall back into a repechage event, the Cricket World Cup Playoff, for one more crack at going to the 2022 World Cup Qualifier.
Cricket World Cup Challenge League A and B
Teams:League A: Canada, Denmark, Malaysia, Qatar, Singapore, Vanuatu; League B: Bermuda, Hong Kong, Italy, Jersey, Kenya, Uganda Matches: 15 List A per team starting in September 2019
This equation is a bit simpler for the teams involved. The only way to have a chance at going to the 2022 World Cup Qualifier is by winning your league. Each league consists of three single round-robin tournaments, essentially a five-match tour once a year in 2019, 2020 and 2021. At the end of the 15 matches per team, the teams that top League A and League B advance to the 2022 CWC Qualifier Playoff.
2022 CWC Qualifier Playoff
Teams: Bottom four teams from CWC League Two + winners of CWC Challenge League A and B
Matches: Five ODIs per team in single-round robin format
This one is also pretty simple and is designed in the manner of the old World Cricket League. The top two teams in this six-team single round-robin event advance to the 2022 World Cup Qualifier. Unlike in years past when these matches were classified as List A only under the banner of the World Cricket League, all matches at this tournament will have ODI status.
2022 CWC Qualifier
Teams: Bottom five teams from ODI Super League + top three teams from CWC League Two + top two teams from CWC Playoff
The top two teams at this 10-team event will claim the final two berths available for the 2023 Cricket World Cup. All matches will have ODI status, including if any team without ODI status from the Challenge League has advanced to the Qualifier.
There's another carrot up for grabs between the 13th placed team in the ODI Super League and the champion of CWC League Two. Whichever of these two teams finishes in a higher position at the CWC Qualifier will claim the 13th spot in the ODI Super League for the 2027 World Cup Qualification, while the team that finishes in the lower position will play in the CWC League Two for 2027 World Cup.
It means there is a chance a Full Member could be relegated into CWC League Two by finishing last in the ODI Super League. If Netherlands finish in 12th place or higher for the ODI Super League, they will be guaranteed to stay in the Super League for the 2027 cycle and could possibly be joined by a second Associate nation, the winner of the CWC League Two. However, if Netherlands finishes in last place in the ODI Super League, they run the risk of being replaced by another Associate country for the 2027 World Cup qualification cycle.