Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo
Cricket Ireland chief executive Warren Deutrom has announced that Ireland and Afghanistan have to be able to play series against Full Member nations in order to gain some credibility.
Deutrom’s comments come after it was revealed that Ireland and Afghanistan have a chance of directly qualifying for the 2019 World Cup after they were added to the ODI rankings table.
“I see divisions have been created of ODI cricket,” Deutrom told ESPNcricinfo. “Full Members have been held to account in terms of the opportunity to play in the World Cup. Ireland is in the first division of ODI nations. We fully expect matches to come. And if they don’t, then questions will be asked about how robust is this structure if a rankings system has been created and there are no matches created.”
However, Deutrom doesn’t believe that Full Member nations will shy away from facing Ireland or Afghanistan since they will be concerned about their rankings should things not go according to plan.
“I would read it differently,” Deutrom said. “Reading between the lines, what has been approved today is for the very first time Full Members have to qualify for the World Cup. Only the top eight in the rankings will pre-qualify. What that means is every single ODI that is now played prior to the  World Cup has a context.
“You can look at it two ways. Some countries may think, ‘We don’t want to play Ireland because we don’t want to risk losing and therefore ranking points.’ Some might say, ‘We need to get out of the eighth or ninth position so why don’t we play Ireland because that is going to get us a better chance of getting ranking points.”
Deutrom also noted that he is going to start scheduling as many series as he can for Ireland in order for them to start becoming stronger and stronger.
“When this issue of 12-team rankings came to [the ICC chief executive committee] in November, there was certainly great support around the table for ensuring that we had a sufficient number of opportunities to play games,” he said. “That did not translate into ‘Here you go, here’s a bunch of ODIs,’ because it was yet to be discussed by the Board. But now that it is across the line I am not going to be shy about really pushing for some matches. We now do so with a much stronger mandate.
“There are certain opportunities for us to explore and exploit. Whether it be around inbound tours to the UK, teams playing around UAE, teams when they are flying to and fro to the Caribbean via London. We just sincerely hope that everyone is going to take the Board resolution seriously to try and make these rankings credible.”
If Full Member nations refuse to take on Ireland or Afghanistan, Deutrom stated that the two countries can always face each other.
“We still have the opportunity of playing against Afghanistan as they do against us,” he said. “What is the alternative? The alternative is we have a ten-team World Cup. We have no opportunity to play against Full Members in a more structured environment. There is no means into an ODI structure, which this new system allows.”