In a major shakeup to women’s ODI cricket, ICC have bestowed ODI status to five Associate teams, effective immediately. These include the European duo of Netherlands and Scotland, as well as Papua New Guinea, Thailand and the USA.
This development undoubtedly comes on the back off the major backlash that the global governing body received over its handling of circumstances at last year’s Women’s ODI World Cup Qualifier. After the Omicron variant forced a cancellation of the event midway, ICC’s steadfast refusal to grant ODI status to games involving Associate members ensured that the final qualification slots awarded were based on the deeply flawed rankings system.
Speaking to ESPNcricinfo last month, Cricket Association of Thailand president Ravi Sehgal had expressed his chagrin at the injustice of the Qualifier. It forced him to reach out to the ICC in a bid to request the granting of ODI status for his nation.
“The players were so disappointed. We should have been given a fair chance to qualify. We couldn’t qualify for the World Cup because we don’t have an ODI ranking as we have never had ODI status,” he said.
ICC Women’s Championship 2022-25 expands to 10 teams
ICC’s recent announcement also included the news of the 2022-25 Women’s ODI Championship expanding to ten teams, up from eight at the previous edition. Bangladesh and Ireland will be the beneficiaries of this expansion, with the rejigged format requiring each team to play eight three-match series (four home and four away) over the next three years. At the conclusion of this cycle, the top five teams and hosts book a direct berth for the 2025 ODI World Cup, whilst the remaining teams battle it out in a Global Qualifier to secure the last available slots.
“Increasing the number of teams in the ICC Women’s Championship and awarding ODI status to five additional teams will help us to accelerate the growth of the women’s game. More teams playing more regularly creates a more competitive environment as we saw at the recent ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup in New Zealand”, ICC CEO Geoff Allardice stated in the press release.
While these are welcome decisions with regards to the development of women’s cricket, they do not go far enough to solve the sport’s structural problems. Without a second tier to the women’s championship, the five new entrants to the ODI rankings table won’t have access to regular competition and are basically consigned to second class status.
It largely leaves the respective boards to their own devices; i.e. spending their limited funds to arrange fixtures amongst themselves. Furthermore, in the absence of an ICC mandate requiring Full Members to play a certain number of games against Associates each year, the five nations will have to rely on the Full Members’ charity and availability to secure valuable fixtures.
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