The men’s T20 World Cup qualifier, a fixture of the Associate calendar since 2008, could be scrapped as part of the pathway to the 2021 men’s T20 World Cup in India. Instead, under consideration currently is a plan that could see as many as 12 teams from the 2020 T20 World Cup gaining qualification and four teams coming through the regional – not global – qualifiers.
With the T20 World Cup now taking place two years in a row – the one in India (originally a Champions Trophy) coming just 12 months after Australia – squeezing in a global qualifier in between looks impractical as some of the regional qualifiers that lead into the global qualifiers are unlikely to conclude until April or May 2021.
The hosting of the global qualifiers within a small window has happened once before, in 2010, when it was held just two months prior to the T20 World Cup in the Caribbean. However, the current proposal has found backing from some of the lower-ranked Associates, who stand to benefit financially, with the budget set aside for the global qualifiers being equally distributed among members.
The lower-ranked sides, who would have little chance of progressing to the qualifier, could end up outvoting higher-ranked Associates in exchange for a one-off payment.
In the proposed plan, the Super 12 teams from the 2020 edition would gain automatic entry to the 2021 edition. Eight of those 12 are in the main draw for 2020 based on the ICC rankings, while four others – among Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Ireland, PNG, Netherlands, Namibia, Scotland and Oman – will join them from the opening round of the tournament. The four remaining berths for 2021 would be decided by the winners of four regional finals.
But the only wrench in this plan is the presence of five Associate regions. To work around this, it seems most likely that the ICC will give one berth each to Americas, Europe and Asia, with the fourth coming through a play-off final between a team from East-Asia Pacific – traditionally the weakest region, dominated by PNG – and Africa.
This format could mean only one of Netherlands, Scotland and Ireland could qualify for 2021, with several other European teams such as Jersey and Germany in the fray (if none of the European trio progresses to the Super 12 stage in Australia).
Likewise, should Oman, Sri Lanka or Bangladesh not make it to the Super 12s, it could mean that they fight with UAE and Nepal as well as Singapore and Hong Kong for one spot in India in 2021.
If PNG or Namibia do not make it into the Super 12s in Australia, they could face a showdown with Zimbabwe – who would also have to go through a regional qualifying final after missing the current qualification cycle due to an ICC suspension – along with other African sides such as Kenya, Uganda and Nigeria.
A final decision on qualification for the 2021 T20 World Cup may not be taken until an ICC board meeting in March 2020.
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