During the final of the recently concluded T20 World Cup Global Qualifier B tournament the ICC changed their log-on system for ICC.TV. Many people watching were logged out during the match. It was typical of the lack of care the ICC now have for what was once the most prestiguous tournament in associate cricket.

The first qualifier for what was then the World T20 wasn't even a T20 tournament. The 2007 World Cricket League Division One tournament in Kenya doubling as the qualifier, with Scotland and the hosts progressing.

The next qualifier - in Ireland the following year - was a T20 tournament. Short and rain-affected, Ireland and the Netherlands qualified for the 2009 World T20 in England, with third placed Scotland added when the UK government refused to allow Zimbabwe to play.

The tournament expanded to eight teams in 2010 with the six ODI status associates joined by hosts UAE and wild-card entrants USA. Afghanistan won the tournament and qualified for their first World Cup, with Ireland joining them.

Qualifying then expanded for the 2012 edition, also in the UAE, with several regional tournaments leading to a 16-team global qualifier. This was the first tournament to be broadcast, with the first round covered by Scotland-based streaming company Quipu TV (now QTV Sports) and the play-offs coming under the ICC's ESPN-Star deal and shown to a worldwide audience. Once again, Afghanistan and Ireland qualified using a unique format whereby positions in groups determined how easy a route through the play-offs a team would have.

Another 16 team event was held in 2013, again in the UAE, this time with six teams qualifying. The play-off structure was tweaked due to the expanded number of teams progressing, and the broadcasting by Star Sports was expanded to include the first round. Ireland and Afghanistan were the finalists again, with Nepal, UAE, Netherlands and Hong Kong joining them in qualifying for the next World T20.

The tournament began to find its feet in 2015 when it was jointly hosted by Ireland and Scotland. It was scaled back to 14 teams but more games than ever were broadcast. The final (between Scotland and the Netherlands) may have been washed out but the tournament was widely hailed as a success. Ireland, Hong Kong, Afghanistan and Oman were the other teams to qualify.

The ICC decided to have a four year gap between the next two T20 World Cups with the qualifier in 2019 held back in the UAE. The number of broadcast games was expanded again. The Netherlands beat Papua New Guinea in the final, with Ireland, Namibia, Scotland and Oman joining them in qualifying. Afghanistan gained automatic entry this time. Again hailed as a success, the tournament was apparantly even one of the rare ICC pathway events to turn a profit.

So of course the ICC had to change things.

The 2019 tournament was a qualifier for the 2020 T20 World Cup in Australia. With the Champions Trophy scrapped (again) the ICC decided that the next men's T20 World Cup would be in India in 2021. The ICC said that the reduced time for a full qualifying pathway meant that the global qualifier had to be split in two, despite the time avaialble (at that time) being more than was available between the 2012 and 2013 qualifying tournaments.

And then Covid happened.

The 2020 World Cup was delayed until 2022, with the qualified teams instead playing in the 2021 tournament, which was moved from India to Oman & the UAE. The split global qualifier would end up being moved to 2022 to qualify teams for that year's World Cup. Many regional pathway events were cancelled with teams progressing based on the flawed ICC rankings.

The qualifiers were no long part of the main Star Sports broadcast deal, instead being part of the ICC's new streaming of pathway events. As already covered in this column, the streaming had issues from the start, almost none of which had been addressed by the time the second of the two global qualifiers ended.

Gone was the inventive play-off structure of the past, though it arguably did still produce the best four qualifiers.

Rather than the two week bonanza featuring 51 matches, most of which were highly meaningful, of the 2019 qualifier, we had two tournaments, each lasting a week and featuring 20 matches each, at least 30% of which were certain to have no impact on qualification.

They were low-budget tournaments and it showed. The coverage, despite some at times excellent commentary, was way below the standards we'd gotten used to. Peter Borren, who was with the Dutch in Zimbabwe described it in a tweet he later deleted as "Amateur hour organisation" and that it was "clear they just ticking a box". It's hard to disagree.

In the future, teams will qualify for the T20 World Cup directly from regional pathway events. I don't necessarily object to this, but if it means more of the same low-budget qualifiers with poor production for an internet stream then it will be another step back.

The current European sub-regional qualifiers are barely being mentioned on the main ICC social media channels and their only place on their website seems to be a scorecard. Press releases are minimal if they exist at all, with no press release being issued for CWC League 2 this year. This is different from in the past when even the most minor of pathway events would get press releases sent out and be made to be seen as important by the ICC's social media team. Is this the future of all ICC pathway events?

When I started writing about associate cricket, the ICC's associate events were unloved, widely ignored and run on a shoestring budget. Sadly, it appears that the demise of the global qualifier for the T20 World Cup could signal a return to that situation.