Irish boss urges Test roadmap for minnows

Hong Kong: Irish cricket chief Warren Deutrom has urged the global governing body to run the sport as a "meritocracy" by giving smaller nations the chance to compete in World Cups and achieve Test status.

Deutrom spoke out ahead of a key decision by the International Cricket Council`s (ICC) executive board on controversial plans to bar so-called "minnow" countries from the next World Cup in 2015.

"The one thing that we shouted out more loudly than anything else is `meritocracy` -- not `we want to be given this as a right` but `we want the opportunity to be better`," Cricket Ireland`s chief executive said on Tuesday.

Ireland performed on a par with many of the full member, or Test-playing, nations at this year`s World Cup, including a stunning victory against England. They also upset Pakistan during their first World Cup appearance in 2007.

But there is no official route or timetable for Ireland to be awarded Test status, frustrating their players, administrators and fans.

Ireland were among a number of second-tier nations to voice outrage in April when the ICC said it would limit participation in the 2015 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand to the 10 Test-playing nations.

However, the ICC`s chief executives` committee recommended on Monday that the decision be reversed, suggesting a qualifying process to allow an unspecified number of minnows to take part.

The recommendation goes before the ICC`s executive board for a final decision later on Tuesday. The world body`s five-day annual conference is due to wrap up on Thursday.

"All we`ve asked for from the very start is simply a road map to where we go next because what we`ve done and what we`ve achieved is everything that has been asked of us," said Deutrom.

ICC officials, stung by criticism that this year`s World Cup dragged on too long, are believed to be in favour of retaining a 10-team limit.

But Deutrom suggested a 14-team format, with four minnows taking part and the possibility of using lights to start earlier and finish later each day, allowing for two matches.

Deutrom said the rapid rise of Afghanistan, who started out in World Cricket League Division Five in 2008 but came within a match of qualifying for the 2011 World Cup, demonstrated the potential of the so-called minnow nations.

The ICC funds Irish cricket to the tune of $1 million a year and Deutrom praised its financial support structures.

But Deutrom said the recommendation to introduce a World Cup qualifying process for second-tier nations left Ireland "butting our heads against a notional glass ceiling and trying to break through".

"We`ve got a business and we are prepared to develop that business but the only way we can move that business on is to get that additional support... to be able to afford more ODIs and the opportunity to play those ODIs," he said.

"And then a pathway perhaps to Test cricket. That has to be the Holy Grail for us."

The executive board will also discuss moves, reportedly spearheaded by India and England, to scrap the ICC`s two-year rotational presidency, although details of any new system remain unclear.

But Deutrom said he was in favour of scrapping automatic rotation, which fell under the spotlight last year when Australia and New Zealand`s nominee, ex-Australian prime minister John Howard, was rejected by other countries.

"The principle is quite simply (that) it`s the best person for the job," he said.

"And the best person for the job might already reside within Pakistan or Bangladesh, but the idea is that as long as the best person for the job is found, we should support that."


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