Josh Ball (Royal Gazette, Bermuda)
Bermuda's international dreams are lying in tatters once more and next month's ICC Americas Division One tournament is in danger of becoming a largely meaningless affair with little else at stake except pride.
What was originally billed as the regional qualifiers for next year's Twenty20 World Cup, the event may now end up as nothing more than an expensive week-long slug fest between the region's top six teams.
The International Cricket Council made several decisions at their annual conference in Hong Kong yesterday and loudly trumpeted the fact that they had reversed their unpopular decision to reduce the next 50-over World Cup to 10 teams.
Buried slightly further down their statement regarding changes, but of far more importance to Associate nations such as Bermuda, was their decision to return the 2012 and 2014 Twenty20 World Cups from a -16-team event to its original -12-team format.
Bermuda believed they had a realistic chance of qualifying for a 16 team event, which would have involved progressing through next month's event in the US as one of the top three, followed by a 16-team global qualifier in Dubai next year.
While a global qualifier will still happen it seems highly unlikely it will involve as many teams, with Associate nations now battling it out for just two spots rather than six.
How that will affect the Americas tournament is unknown as ICC Americas officials were caught off-guard by yesterday's announcement and were unable to provide any further information.
Ultimately the devil will be in the detail, because although the ICC have said that the 12-teams will be taken from the 10 Full Member Nations and two Associates, they have yet to clarify who would be involved in qualifying.
'I can't see there being an event where 16 teams are fighting for two spots,' said an ICC official who declined to be named.
'Why would some of the (lesser) teams bother going?'
Despite being at the conference Neil Speight, Bermuda Cricket Board's cheif executive, who sits on the ICC Executive Committee that made the decision, has yet to provide the BCB with any further details and coach David Moore is still waiting to find out where his team stands.
'The bottom line is it's hard to be proactive and plan when you have all these changes occuring within the last six months, but you've just got to do what you do,' said Moore.
'I'm surprised, but there's no point crying over spilt milk. It's right there in front of us, we've got to wait to find out what the ICC decides to do. At this stage we're preparing full steam ahead until we hear anything different. What we've got, once again, is what's going to happen, but we haven't been told how it's going to happen.'
As well as the change in the Twenty20 format there was also a u-turn which keeps the next 50-over World Cup at 14 teams for 2015. A move welcomed by Ireland, who pressured for the change, but largely irrelevant to a Bermuda team who have little hope of qualifying for that competition.
'The initial reaction is probably just one of relief to be honest with you, relief that we now have the opportunity to qualify for the World Cup and relief that we can now devote our energy to actually trying to qualify for it,' Cricket Ireland chief executive Warren Deutrom said.
However, with the 2019 World Cup due to revert to the 10-team format that the ICC had orgininally wanted to impose in four years' time, it means that the earliest Bermuda might expect to be involved in any sort of world competition would be at an expanded 2016 Twenty20 World Cup.