Bermuda handed second chance at World Cup
Bermuda has been handed a spectacular second chance at qualification for the 2023 Cricket World Cup.
The culmination of a week of International Cricket Council board and committee meetings in Singapore on Saturday confirmed a new pathway that has effectively made null and void the disastrous World Cricket League Division Four tournament held in Malaysia in April and May.
Disastrous for Bermuda, that is.
The fallout from being relegated to the cricketing backwater of Division Five included the international retirement of Janeiro Tucker, Kamau Leverock's temporary withdrawal of services and, latterly, the refusal of the Bermuda Cricket Board to act on a contract extension for head coach Clay Smith, prompting his “resignation” last month.
But with a view to further growing the game globally, and after appearing to listen to the longstanding pleas of Associate Members for more cricket, the ICC has handed a “get out of jail free” card to Bermuda — and all those for whom the route to India in five years' time had closed.
“To date the World Cricket League has played an important role in improving standards in Associate Member cricket, but feedback from our consultation with members clearly articulated the need for more frequent playing opportunities and greater certainty over when they would be playing,” David Richardson, the ICC chief executive, said.
“The new structure significantly increases the number of matches and competitive playing opportunities for our members, as well as shortening the whole qualification process to 2½ years, when previously it was six. There is a clear pathway now for teams looking to qualify for the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup.”
The news could not have come at a better time for Bermuda cricket, which was plunged farther into the doldrums last week by the resignations of long-serving chief executive Neil Speight and first vice-president Nyon Steede.
The developments mean Bermuda will embark on at least a 15-match campaign in August next year, starting in the newly formed Cricket World Cup Challenge League A and B, which comprises two groups of six from divisions three through five, with all matches afforded List A status.
Effectively starting at the bottom, Bermuda would need to win their group to reach the six-team CWC Qualifier Play-offs, finish in the top two of that to reach the ten-team CWC Qualifier and finish in the top two of that to reach the World Cup, where the top eight nations from the new CWC Super League await including the host.
The most contentious element of the new pathway is that the World Cup will remain restricted to ten countries, meaning five Full Members will be in the CWC Qualifier, thus reducing the chances of the lesser-established nations appearing on the global stage.
BCB president Lloyd Smith was noncommittal about Bermuda taking up the offer when contacted yesterday, saying financial considerations will have to be made before accepting re-entry into comfortably the more difficult of the two global tournaments to navigate.
“If it is affordable, we will go for it,” said Smith, whose concerns revolve around how much travel might be required to fulfil a minimum 15-match fixture list between August 2019 and January 2022, and how much assistance might come from the ICC, the world governing body. “Right now, the Twenty20 is the easier pathway to a World Cup.”
Bermuda awaits confirmation of the next round of the ICC Americas World Twenty20 Qualifiers, having progressed with Cayman Islands from the Southern Sub-Regional in Argentina in February and March.
United States and Canada predictably emerged from the Northern Sub-Regional Qualifier last month, seeing off Panama and Belize.
The dates and venue for the regional finals will be determined next month, with Bermuda expected to put in a bid as host. The top two from that tournament head to the 14-team World Twenty20 Qualifier, from which six will reach the World Twenty20 in Australia in October and November 2020.