ICC Media Release
The ICC has announced the 2008 Associate schedule of international cricket.
One of the highlights of this year's schedule will be the staging of the inaugural ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier which will take place in Belfast at the start of August between the six ODI Associate teams, Bermuda, Canada, Ireland, Kenya, the Netherlands and Scotland.
The finalists from that event will join the 10 Full Members at the next ICC World Twenty20 which will be hosted by the England and Wales Cricket Board in 2009. Apart from the enormous attention that competing in such a high-profile event like that will bring, the two successful teams will also stand to gain US$250,000 each for qualifying.
The three-day event will be staged at the Stormont ground in Belfast and will be a fiesta of cricket with three matches played each day.
'This event gives the top six Associates the opportunity to qualify for the 2009 World Twenty20 in that format of the game. It will also give cricket fans in Ireland a great opportunity to see some thrilling cricket in this, the shortest and newest form of the international game,' said ICC Global Development Manager Matthew Kennedy.
But before all that, the 2008 schedule for the top Associates gets underway on 15 January when Kenya travels to Sharjah to take on the United Arab Emirates in the Intercontinental Cup.
After that there will be plenty more Intercontinental Cup action, giving the eight top Associates the opportunity to hone their skills in the four-day version of the game. Defending champion Ireland will be out to make sure it doesn't lose its grip on the title and will be hoping to make the final, which takes place in Dubai next November.
Meanwhile, there will be plenty of ODIs for all the top sides, with series in Kenya, Namibia, UAE, Scotland, Ireland and the Netherlands with some matches involving Full Members such as New Zealand and England.
'This schedule of matches for the top Associates has been developed and refined over the past six months,' said Richard Done, ICC's High Performance Manager.
'It provides a challenging programme for each of the teams as they seek to improve their overall standing in world cricket and to continue the process of making themselves consistently competitive when facing the next tier. Having been through an extensive consultation process this schedule has the full support and agreement of each of the participating countries,' he said.