One-Day League becomes the WCL Championship
The relationship between the ICC's new One-Day League, the existing World Cricket League structure and the qualification process for the 2015 World Cup was clarified on Tuesday with the announcement that the ODL would be ‘rebranded' as the Pepsi ICC World Cricket League Championship.
The eight-team competition, which got under way last June, runs parallel to the first-class Intercontinental Cup, with the top two sides after seven round-robin matches qualifying directly for the World Cup.
The remaining two places in the latter tournament will be settled in a ten-team World Cup qualifying tournament, to be held in 2014. The participants in that will be the other six sides from the WCL Championship, Papua New Guinea and Hong Kong (who finished third and fourth in last year's WCL Division 2), and the top two sides from WCL Division 3, scheduled to take place in 2013.
This structure was in essence already known, but what was unclear until now was the impact the creation of the one-day league would have on the top tiers of the World Cricket League.
The ICC has now indicated that the WCL Division 1 has effectively disappeared, with the WCL Championship replacing it as the top one-day competition specifically for Associate and Affiliate members.
Teams taking part in the WCL Division 5 tournament in Singapore next month still have at least a theoretical chance of achieving what Afghanistan almost did last time round, rising through the divisions to qualify for the World Cup itself.
The top two sides from Singapore will advance to Division 4, scheduled for Florida later this year, with the top two from that event battling it out in Division 3 for a place in the World Cup qualifier.
And the World Cup qualifier will not only determine the final two teams for the 2015 competition in Australia and New Zealand; rankings there will feed into the composition of the next edition of the World Cricket League, including the Championship, although much may depend on how the structure of international cricket looks after the recommendations of the Woolf Report have been absorbed and acted upon.
ICC Global Development Manager Tim Anderson explained on Tuesday that the idea of the Championship had developed over the past year, but had taken time to implement.
‘At the beginning of 2011, we were keen to start building greater context around 50-over bilateral matches between the top Associate and Affiliate Members,' Anderson said, ‘and then when it emerged that the top two sides from WCL Division 2 in Dubai would also be the two teams participating along with the top six Associates and Affiliates in the ICC Intercontinental Cup 2011-13, this provided additional impetus.'
‘That meant that we could create a one-day league parallel to the four-day competition, giving the one-dayers, which are paired with the first-class matches, a sharper edge.'
But once it became clear that there would after all be a qualification process for the 2015 World Cup, with the new One-Day League becoming part of that pathway, it was necessary to ensure that the changes were formally approved.
‘This new structure was a change to the existing qualifying pathway to the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015, that also effectively incorporated ICC WCL Division 1,and therefore agreement from ICC commercial partners and committees was necessary,' Anderson added.
‘The timing of today's announcement is looking forward to the coming round of matches in the Championship, which are due to take place over the next few weeks.'