Two wins against the Netherlands in Amsterdam on Sunday and Tuesday will seal a place in a third successive ICC CWC for William Porterfield’s side
Ireland will look to become the first side to qualify for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 when it goes head-to-head with the Netherlands in two One-Day Internationals in Amsterdam on Sunday and Tuesday.
Two wins for William Porterfield’s side in the Pepsi ICC World Cricket League Championship (ICC WCLC), the tournament between the top eight Associate and Affiliate teams, would be enough to secure a ticket to Australia and New Zealand.
It would be Ireland’s fifth global event after reaching the ICC CWC in 2007 and 2011 and the ICC World Twenty20 in 2010 and 2012.
But the matches are equally vital for the Dutch, currently third on the table, as only the top two sides go forward to the ICC CWC via this event.
The six teams that do not qualify through the Pepsi ICC WCLC will face the prospect of fighting it out in a qualifying event in New Zealand early next year for the remaining two spots.
These matches are part of the penultimate round of fixtures in an event that began two years ago and which will conclude in October this year, and both encounters in Amsterdam will be streamed live at www.icc-cricket.com.
“These matches mean everything for both sides as both of us must win,” said Ireland captain William Porterfield. “The Dutch have got to win to keep things in their hands while we know that two wins will get us to Australia and New Zealand.
“Cricket Ireland has set out a strategic plan to be playing Test cricket by 2020 and that involves a lot of hard yards. One of the boxes we have got to tick is winning events like this.
“Doing that is very important for Irish cricket as it will give us the profile to help bring more people to the game and that will hopefully bring in funding that will keep the game growing.”
The Netherlands were in that second place that brings with it automatic ICC CWC qualification until Scotland leapfrogged them with two wins against Kenya in Aberdeen this week.
But the Dutch still have their destiny in their own hands, something captain Peter Borren was keen to emphasise.
“We have got four games left, two of them against Ireland and two against Canada, and if we win three of them then that should be enough,” he said.
“For any country, the (ICC Cricket) World Cup is the ultimate stage and for Associate teams like us it is our chance to get exposure and to compete with the big boys.
“For Dutch cricket it is huge because in order to expand the game we have got to be on the global stage as often as possible.”
All four sides that ultimately qualify for the ICC CWC 2015 – the top two from the Pepsi ICC WCLC and the two that will go through from the ICC CWC Qualifier in New Zealand in January 2014 – will each get a US$ one million preparation grant from the ICC.
And Cricket Ireland Chief Executive Warren Deutrom said the earlier his side could start their preparations by sealing a place in the global event the happier they would be.
“It would be an advantage to go through now, or even in September (when Ireland’s final ICC WCLC matches are played, against Scotland) rather than through the (ICC CWC) Qualifier because it gives (coach) Phil Simmons a chance to identify his squad as far out from 2015 as possible,” he said.
“We can set up Full Member opponents and get planning in place from 18 months out rather than 12 months out and it is all part of the way we are thinking.
“We do not just want to qualify though. We do not just want to do that and think ‘we’ve qualified, now let’s sit back and rest on our laurels’.
“We want to do it as winners of the World Cricket League Championship, as to do that would be matching our expectations and those of our Government backers, our sponsors and our fans.
“Everyone has invested in us and continues to do so, and so, for us, it is all about being first through the gate and cementing our place as the top Associate, something we have been for the last four or five years. Anything less would be regarded as a disappointment and a backwards step.”
Five teams – Ireland, Scotland, the Netherlands, Afghanistan and the UAE - are still competing for the top two WCL Championship places and with competition for spots that tight the tournament had proven its worth according to the ICC Global Development Manager Tim Anderson.
“As a new ICC competition, the WCL Championship has been a great success,” he said. “It provides regular high-level international competition for the top Associates and Affiliates, while all matches have significant context with ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 qualification on the line.
“The opportunity to participate at the highest level of our game is critical to all Associate and Affiliate Members.
“Playing on the biggest stage obviously provides important exposure for players, but also provides a major boost to cricket in the countries that are successful in qualifying for the Cricket World Cup.”.
And commenting on the ICC’s live streaming of WCL Championship matches, Anderson added:
“The reaction to these broadcasts, which is a new ICC initiative, has been really encouraging.
There is a growing fan base for this level of cricket, and with playing standards continually improving and the matches having significant meaning, we expect more and more people will tune in as the CWC qualifiers are determined over the coming months.”
Netherlands (from) – Peter Borren (captain), Wesley Barresi, Mudassar Bukhari, Daan van Bunge, Tom Cooper, Ahsan Malik, Paul van Meekeren, Stephan Myburgh, Michael Rippon, Pieter Seelaar and Michael Swart, Daniel Doram, Schiferli, Szwarczynski
Ireland (from) – William Porterfield (captain), Alexander Cusack, Kevin O’Brien, David Johnston, John Mooney, Max Sorensen, Edmund Joyce, Niall O'Brien, Gary Wilson, Paul Stirling, Timothy Murtagh, George Dockrell, Andrew White and James Shannon.
Umpires - Mark Hawthorne and Chris Gaffaney
Match referee – David Jukes
WCL Championship points table (before Ireland-Netherlands ODIs):
Pepsi ICC WCL Championship
The Pepsi ICC WCL Championship features the top eight Associate and Affiliate teams - Afghanistan, Canada, Ireland, Kenya, Namibia, Netherlands, Scotland and the UAE - and is a seven-round competition that provides direct qualification opportunities to the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015, to be held in Australia and New Zealand.
The top two teams from the Pepsi ICC WCL Championship will automatically join the ICC’s 10 Full Members at the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015, while the bottom six teams will receive a second opportunity to advance to the ICC’s flagship global event by competing in the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier in early 2014. This 10-team event will determine the final two qualifiers for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015.
To read more about the Pepsi ICC World Cricket League Championship, please click here.