The countdown to the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 begins later this month with the staging of the ICC World Cricket League Division 5 (WCL Div. 5) in the Channel Island of Jersey from 23-31 May.
There are not many sports where the national team from the United States of America will take on the small Pacific island nation of Vanuatu in a competitive fixture or where Afghanistan faces off against the Bahamas. But such is the global nature of cricket these days that is exactly what is in store for cricket fans in Jersey as the island prepares to host an ICC global event for the first time.
The 12-team event will be staged across six venues and will take the format of two groups of six with the top two from each section progressing to the knock-out stage.
The finalists from this tournament will be promoted to the ICC World Cricket League Division 4 thus joining Hong Kong, Fiji, Tanzania and Italy in a six-team event that will take place in the Tanzanian capital Dar Es Salaam from 4 to 11 October.
In turn, the top two teams from that tournament will progress to Division 3 and so on until the top four Associate or Affiliate teams in the world will book their place at the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 to be staged in Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Those four will join the 10 Full Members to decide the top one-day side in the world.
"This gives every side a clear pathway for progression and the chance to compete at the very highest level," said ICC Global Development Manager Matthew Kennedy.
"So even though a team might be competing in the WCL Div. 5 tournament this month, there is the chance it could make it all the way to the next World Cup. More realistically, though, it gives those teams a structure and a long-term goal to aim at so that even if they don't get there this time, they could target 2015, 2019 or 2023," he said.
"On another level, WCL Div. 5 also gives these sides the opportunity to play against similarly ranked sides from around the world in conditions that perhaps they are not used to. It is very much part of the development process to give players the chance to perform outside their home environment.
"This is a fantastic tournament and shows how the ICC is determined to continue the process of making cricket even stronger around the world."