In exciting news for the Afghanistan and Ireland cricket boards ahead of the upcoming cricket World Cup, the International Cricket Council (ICC) has announced a possibility for direct qualification for both teams for the 2019 competition.
ICC teams ranked from one to eight, on 30th September, 2017 will automatically qualify for the 2019 edition of the World Cup.
The next-ranked four teams will play the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier which will be held in 2018.
The qualifiers will determine the two teams who which get to join the top eight in direct qualification.
As a result of this announcement, Afghanistan and Ireland will be no longer required to participate in the ICC World Cricket League Championship.
The two Associate Member teams will be replaced by Kenya and Nepal in the ICC World Cricket League Championship after they finished third and fourth respectively in the ICC World Cricket League Division 2.
Nepal and Kenya will be playing along with Hong Kong, Netherlands, Papua New Guinea, Scotland, UAE and Namibia in the tournament which will begin in mid 2015.
The new format designed by the ICC will offer a promotion and relegation system for the Associate and Affiliate members.
The lowest ranked Associate or Affiliate member will face a challenge series with the winner of the ICC World Cricket League Championship.
The winner of this play-off will be promoted to the ranking table for the next cycle and the losing team will be relegated to the ICC World Cricket League Championship.
Ireland and Afghanistan are scheduled to participate in the four-day ICC Intercontinental Cup 2015-17 along with Namibia, Netherlands, Papua New Guinea, Hong Kong, Scotland and UAE.
ICC Chief Executive David Richardson declared the two teams 'deserving' of this opportunity.
"Both Afghanistan and Ireland have excelled on and off the field in recent years, and this decision is a critical step forward to the ICC’s aim of having more competitive teams in international cricket," said Richardson.
"The decision also provides even greater context to One-Day International cricket, and provides a fully meritocratic pathway into ICC’s Cricket World Cup and Champions Trophy events.
"It also compliments the recent decision by the ICC Board to introduce opportunities for Associate and Affiliate Members to play Test cricket through the ICC Intercontinental Cup and ICC Test Challenge.
"With a system of promotion and relegation in place, I look forward to seeing the leading Associate and Affiliate teams become even more competitive as they battle for the opportunity to compete at the very highest level of one-day cricket," added Richardson.
Cricket Ireland CEO Warren Deutrom expressed his delight after the announcement.
"We are absolutely delighted with the opportunity to qualify directly to the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019.
"Ireland has worked very hard over recent years to prove itself as the leading Associate side and has beaten a number of Full Members over the years.
"We are confident that we can now accelerate our progress as part of this qualification structure with the Full Members, while this is also an excellent boost as we put our finishing touches on our preparations for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015."
© Cricket World 2015