The beginning of the year 2019 is an important juncture in the cricket calendar: mainly for T20 Internationals. All T20 matches between two ICC members (given that matches will fulfill certain criteria) will carry “T20 International” status from Jan 1st, 2019 onwards.
Freehit contributor – Chathura Kumarasinghe
So, the T20I status ceiling which barred the 105 other ICC members playing international cricket will be lifted from this day onwards. (All Women’s T20 matches were awarded T20I status on July 1st – 2018) Before 2019, there were only 18 members with T20I status – 12 full members plus Scotland, Netherlands, Hong Kong, UAE, Oman and Nepal. There will be a global ranking system too, launched by ICC. It should be recognized as one of the most important steps ICC has taken towards growing the game we all love.
Though the glamorous event (12th fifty-over ICC World Cup) in UK will be the highlight of 2019, it will be an interesting year for the upcoming T20 World Cup as well. All the sub-regional, regional and global qualifiers for 2020 ICC T20 World Cup (formally known as ICC World T20) will be finished at the end of 2019. In fact, now we know who qualified for the T20 World Cup through automatic qualification since the cut-off date was 31st of December 2018.
So far, hosts Australia and 9 other countries (Pakistan, India, England, South Africa, New Zealand, West Indies, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh) have qualified through T20I rankings for the prestigious event. There will be another six slots up for grabs as 2020 T20 WC is a 16-team tournament.
The seventh ICC T20 World Cup which is to be held in Australia, will see 77 ICC members competing in different stages of Qualifying tournaments and the main tournament itself.
Biennial Qualification Pathway (2018-2020) is as follows.
ICC has formed 12 sub regions from their five main governing regions: 3 each from Africa, Europe & 2 each from Asia, Americas, East-Asia Pacific. The sub-regional qualifiers saw 61 countries competing for a spot in regional qualifiers. The qualification pathway began in 26th February 2018 in Buenos Aires, Argentina with the commencement of the Southern Americas Sub-regional qualifiers. Final Sub-regional qualifier (East-Asia Pacific Group-B) was held in Dasmarinas, Philippines from December 1-7, 2018. The 12 sub-regional qualifier events were held across the globe.
Though none of the matches in sub-regional qualifiers carried T20 International status, all the matches in the Regional qualifiers will be T20 Internationals. So, some of the countries who qualified to the next stage will be lucky enough to play their inaugural cricket match carrying “T20 International status” in 2019. East-Asia Pacific & Africa Regional qualifiers will be held in Papua New Guinea (March) and Uganda (May) respectively. Details of the Asia, Europe and America regional qualifiers have not been announced yet.
The global qualifier, also known as ICC T20 World Cup Qualifier (Venue- TBA) is expected to take place in October-2019. 8 countries from regional qualifiers and 6 countries from ICC Men’s T20I rankings will complete the line up for the mega event. Top 6 teams from the global qualifier will book their tickets to Australia.
The T20 World Cup will be held from 18th October – 15th November 2020. Eight cities would be hosting the tournament: Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra, Geelong, Hobart, Melbourne, Perth & Sydney.
After those three qualification steps you would think an emerging nation (Who played in sub regionals & qualified for a World Cup) would get the opportunity to play against the big dogs. Unfortunately, they won’t. There will be another “first round qualifier” to shrink the tournament to 12 teams. Here’s how it goes.
Out of the 10 countries who qualified for the World Cup through ICC T20I rankings, 8 of them will be directly placed in the “Super 12’s Round”. The other two countries (9th ranked Sri Lanka & 10th ranked Bangladesh) will meet the six qualifier teams (who qualified to the world cup through the global qualifier) in the “first round” of fixtures to fight it out for the 4 slots in super 12’s round. The top 2 teams of each Super 12 round group will progress to the semifinals.
Importance of T20 World Cup
There are only 12 countries who enjoy Test status out of 105 ICC members. Apart from those 12 countries, the ICC Intercontinental Cup, which is the international first-class(four-day) tournament for leading associate nations will accommodate another 6-8 teams (Unless ICC has decided to scrap this tournament after 2019) to play the longer form of the game. According to the new 2023 CWC pathway, only 32 ICC members will be lucky enough to play 50 over cricket through the CWC Super League, League 2 & Challenge League in 2019 -2023. Out of those 32, only 20 members will carry ODI status.
As mentioned in the beginning, the ICC has granted T20I status to all its members from 1st Jan 2019 onwards. So, Twenty-20 matches will be the only form of the game the rest of the world can play with the recognition from ICC as full international matches. Unlike other forms of the game, T20I cricket grants the opportunity to 77 members to play International cricket matches biennially through the T20 World Cup Qualification pathway. These fixtures in sub-regional & regional qualifiers are the only matches some countries play till the next T20 qualification pathway begins. These fixtures will help emerging countries to find the financial aid from governments, ICC and develop grass-roots cricket.]
Unlike the 50-over main event which is a 10-team tournament, the T20 World Cup paves the way for 16 countries which means there will be at least four associate countries that will feature in the T20 World Cup. Full member countries are no longer guaranteed a spot in T20 World Cup just because of their membership status. Sri Lanka, the 2014 World T20 winner, 3-time World T20 finalist will have to play first round of fixtures to qualify for the Super 12’s in the T20 World Cup. For the first time in T20 World Cup history, Zimbabwe will have to sweat in global qualifiers just to earn a place in the 16-team Mega event. Though there is understandable backlash from traditionalist towards the T20 format on how it kills the longer form of the game, it is hard to ignore the opportunities T20 World Cup has created for the emerging countries.