The International Cricket Council (ICC) today announced that the current 50-Over League played by the top eight Associate and Affiliate Members (AMs) will now be called the Pepsi ICC World Cricket League Championship (WCL Championship).
The WCL Championship, together with the ongoing global divisions of the Pepsi ICC World Cricket League (WCL), provides a dual pathway for all AMs to qualify for the ICC Cricket World Cup (CWC) 2015.
The competing teams in the WCL Championship include Afghanistan, Canada, Ireland, Kenya, Netherlands and Scotland - all with ODI status - along with the top two sides from WCL Division 2 in 2011, Namibia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
The event is being played over a two and a half year period, and commenced in 2011. It will conclude towards the end of 2013 after each team has played each other in two matches across seven home or away rounds. Each team will therefore play 14 matches in total.
The top two teams in the WCL Championship will automatically join the ICC’s 10 Full Members in the CWC 2015, which is being jointly hosted by Australia and New Zealand.
"The WCL Championship provides exciting ongoing competition for the top eight AMs through to the end of 2013, with all matches having an impact on ICC Cricket World Cup qualification," said ICC Global Development Manager Tim Anderson.
The bottom six teams in the WCL Championship will receive a second qualifying opportunity when they participate in the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier (CWCQ) in early 2014. This 10-team event will determine the final two qualifiers into the CWC 2015.
Papua New Guinea and Hong Kong, who finished third and fourth in WCL Division 2 in 2011, will also take part in the CWCQ 2014, while the other two competing teams will be decided via the ongoing WCL divisional structure.
WCL Division 5 will be hosted in Singapore from February 18 to 25, followed by Division 4 later in 2012, then Division 3 in 2013. The top two teams in Division 3 will play in the CWCQ 2014.
"By both the WCL Championship and divisional events forming part of this qualifying process, not only do the top AMs have the opportunity to play against each other more regularly in matches with significant context, but all ICC Members have the opportunity to qualify for cricket’s flagship global event," added Mr Anderson.
Round three of the WCL Championship begins on 18 February 2012, with Ireland taking on Kenya in Mombasa. WCL Division 5 commences in Singapore on the same day, and will be contested by Argentina, Bahrain, Cayman Islands, Guernsey, Malaysia and Singapore. The top two teams will then be promoted to Division 4.