The ICC have announced today the defined qualification pathways for several World Cup events in the coming few years.
Perhaps the most exciting details, from the point of view of USA Cricket, are the confirmation of USA Men’s automatic qualification as co-hosts into the 2024 Men’s T20 World Cup, and the announcement of a 16 team ICC Women’s U19 T20 World Cup set for January, 2023.
The 2024 ICC Men’s T20 World Cup will feature 20 teams: The top eight teams from the 2022 T20 World Cup, plus the two hosts (West Indies and USA), and the next two teams at the top of the MRF ICC Men’s T20 rankings table will make up the 12 teams which automatically qualify. The final eight teams will be determined by regional qualifiers to round out the first ever 20 team T20 World Cup.
The automatic qualification could be USA’s first Men’s T20 World Cup berth in history, unless the team secures one of two remaining 2022 Men’s T20 World Cup slots via the Global Qualifiers to be held in Zimbabwe this coming July.
“My initial inclination is that this gives a big boost to the current national players, as well as the aspiring national players behind them, maybe U23 and even U19, it’s an unbelievable opportunity to showcase talent in the next two years,” USA Cricket League Director and Cricket Committee Chair, Sushil Nadkarni told Emerging Cricket. “Obviously there’s a lot of talk about contracts, and about Major League Cricket, but all of that will only boost the number of opportunities with our players coming forward. Having something like this guaranteed for our players, there’s no better motivation to pick yourself up in the morning and give 150%. A World Cup berth is big, not only on the field, but there’s going to be an unbelievable fan following that will come out of this.”
The 2023 ICC Women’s U19 T20 World Cup will feature 16 teams and be the first ever World Cup for the women’s U19 age group. Originally slated for January 2021 in Bangladesh, the inaugural event was pushed back twice due to Covid-19, and will now be hosted in South Africa.
In the meantime, USA Cricket held talent searches and national championships which culminated in the selection of the first ever USA Women’s U19 training squad. In January, USA sent a Women’s U19 squad to St. Vincent for a first ever tour, defeating Windward Islands three games to one in a four game T20 series.
The success of USA’s new women’s pathway, spearheaded by Head Coach Julia Price, was so substantial that it recently received the ICC “100% Female Cricket Initiative of the Year” Development Award for 2021.
The importance of the women’s cricket in general cannot be understated, according to Nadkarni. “I’ve always maintained that given the state of cricket, if you compare youth on the boys side and on the girls side, the greatest opportunity for USA to develop is on the girls side. That’s where we absolutely have young girls and women that want to play the sport, and aspire to play at the highest level,” the former USA Men’s captain insisted.
“The only thing (the women) were lacking so far was infrastructure and programmatic support to make it happen. Now that we have the USA nationals and U19 and other tournaments, like recently with the Houston Open, we are seeing tremendous interest. There are older players, and there are younger players I’ve seen as young as 7 or 8 years old who are joining the system right now, and academies and coaching programs. This can only mean one thing: that we have tremendous potential for growth on the women’s side, and we can’t ignore it. We have to nurture it so that we can have the organic growth necessary to take cricket in the USA to where it needs to be in the next 5-10 years.”
The ICC also defined the format for the 2024 Women’s T20 World Cup, and the 2025 ICC Women’s World Cup.
The 2024 Women’s T20 World Cup will feature ten teams, with eight earning automatic qualifications. Six slots will be determined via their finish in the 2023 T20 World Cup, plus the host and next highest ranked team. Should the host team be ranked in the top six teams in the 2023 World Cup, the open spot will be filled by the second highest ranked T20i team to complete the eight automatic berths. The remaining two teams will have to earn their way via Global Qualifiers.
The 2025 Women’s World Cup will feature eight teams, with the top five highest-placed teams from the 2022-2025 ICC Women’s Championship cycle automatically qualifying, alongside the yet to be determined host. The final two slots will be filled via a global qualifier featuring the bottom four teams in the ICC Women’s Championship, plus two additional teams based on ODI ranking.
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