The International Cricket Council (ICC) has announced plans to expand the Intercontinental Cup to eight teams with the result that the Intercontinental Shield will no longer exist.
The Shield, won by Namibia in the first running of the competition as they beat the United Arab Emirates by six wickets in Dubai, was set up to allow four more Associate teams first-class experience.
For the 2011-12 Intercontinental Cup, two teams from the World Cricket League Division Two will join the top six Associate members - Afghanistan, Canada, Ireland, Kenya, the Netherlands and Scotland - in an expanded first-class competition that will run from May 2011 to December 2012.
World Cricket League Division Two, which will be held in April in Dubai, currently comprises Bermuda, Namibia, UAE and Uganda - the four teams which contested the Shield - and will also include two qualifiers from the Division Three event, held in January.
The format of the competition will remain the same with all eight teams meeting each other once in a round-robin basis before a final.
"Due to the Zimbabwe XI no longer participating, it has been decided to revert to the previous I Cup structure of eight teams with more guaranteed games for all," Matthew Kennedy, ICC Global Development Manager said.
"In making this decision, consideration was given to the international cricket opportunities now provided to all 95 Associate and Affiliate Members across all three formats of the game.
"With balancing these formats in mind, it is important to offer the best non-Test-playing nations the opportunity to compete in meaningful multi-day cricket. And as a result of this expanded I Cup, the second division that was the ICC Intercontinental Shield is no longer required."
The ICC has also announced that Singapire and Malaysia respectively will host Division Five and Six of the World Cricket League in 2011 while the 16-team qualifying event for the 2012 ICC World Twenty20 is to be held in the United Arab Emirates early next year.
© Cricket World 2010