Melbourne: The International Cricket Council hopes associate members Ireland and Afghanistan can play 10 one-day international matches a year to prepare for qualification for the 2019 World Cup but says it will be "difficult" to give them any guarantees.
Ireland and Afghanistan, who will compete as one of four associate members among 14 teams at the 2015 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, face a tougher path to qualify for 2019, with the number of teams trimmed to 10 and the first eight spots allocated according to world ranking.
The remaining two berths for the tournament in England and Wales will be decided by qualifying matches between a logjam of lower-ranked full members and associate teams.
Ireland have long lamented a paucity of international matches against top sides like Australia and India as a barrier to their improvement and ability to compete at the top level.
"It`s difficult to guarantee matches for them," Richardson told reporters in Melbourne.
"I think it`s important that we provide the top associate members the opportunity. And certainly the indications are that the full members will support Ireland in that objective.
"For the moment it’s Afghanistan and Ireland who are in the picture. We have to look after them in particular.
"They will not only be playing matches against the other full members like England, and teams that may be visiting England, they`ll also be playing amongst themselves quite frequently.
"We`re working on them having at least 10 ODIs per season leading up to qualification for that next World Cup. So the opportunity will be there.
"Australia have talked about tours involving Afghanistan.
"I don’t think we would have gone down this route if we weren’t confident that we, as I say, (could) make sure that Ireland, Afghanistan both are playing in the region of 8-10 ODIs per year."
The ICC had originally intended to reduce the teams for the 2015 tournament hosted by Australia and New Zealand but backflipped after an outcry from association teams led by Ireland after the 2011 tournament in the subcontinent.
However, cricket`s global governing body have been adamant 2015 will be the last hurrah for the 14-team format at the quadrennial tournament which has been criticised for being too long and having too many one-sided results between mismatched teams.
The World Cup begins on Feb. 14.