ICC Intercontinental Cup to be expanded to two divisions for 2009-10
The 2009-10 edition of the ICC Intercontinental Cup will be expanded to two divisions and include as many as 11 teams, it was announced today.
The multi-day tournament that features the leading Associate teams will also see prize money awarded for the first time. These decisions were made by the ICC Development Committee, which has been meeting this week in Dubai.
The line-ups for the fifth staging of the event that began in 2004 will see top European Associate countries with ODI status - Ireland, the Netherlands, and Scotland - taking on Canada, Kenya, and Afghanistan in the top division in the battle for the ICC Intercontinental Cup.
A team from Zimbabwe will line up alongside them, subject to agreement between Zimbabwe Cricket and the ICC. This follows on from a recommendation made by the task team set up to examine cricket in Zimbabwe that reported to the ICC Board in April.
European nations have always performed well at this tournament since its inception: Ireland is the defending champions having won the previous three editions of the ICC Intercontinental Cup, in 2005, 2007 and 2009. The other team to have lifted the trophy was Scotland, which won the inaugural event in 2004.
The United Arab Emirates, Namibia, Bermuda and Uganda - the four other Associate teams that are part of the Gatorade ICC High Performance Programme - will play each other for the ICC Intercontinental Shield.
For Afghanistan and Uganda it will be their first exposure to multi-day action after impressing in the one-day format.
There will be a total of US$250,000 in prize money for the Associate teams with US$100,000 for the winners of the ICC Intercontinental Cup and US$40,000 for the runners-up.
The winners of the ICC Intercontinental Shield will collect US$25,000 with the runners-up pocketing US$10,000 and matches in both divisions will have the prize of US$3,000 for an outright win.
ICC Chief Executive Haroon Lorgat said: "I'm delighted the Development Committee has been so positive and expansive in its approach to the ICC Intercontinental Cup, the flagship multi-day event for teams below Test level.
"This new format will allow the top six Associate teams to maintain a high standard of even competitiveness.
"And by creating an additional division we have been able to offer all our Gatorade ICC High Performance Programme countries multi-day cricket which helps them develop the skills needed to perform at a higher level.
"Following the task team recommendations, we are in discussions with Zimbabwe Cricket for it to field a team in the competition and if it does so then I believe that will benefit all concerned.
"It will see the top six Associate teams come up against good quality, professional opposition and provide the Zimbabwean players with additional opportunities to play multi-day cricket, something essential for them to chart a course back to the Test arena.
"I am also delighted that, for the first time, the event has prize money for the Associate teams. It will assist in their ongoing process to professionalise their operations and that, in turn, will help them continue to raise their playing standards."
The 2009-10 ICC Intercontinental Cup and ICC Intercontinental Shield will not feature promotion and relegation.
Fixtures for the tournament will be announced in due course.
All 10 Associate teams set to take part in the ICC Intercontinental Cup and ICC Intercontinental Shield form part of the Gatorade ICC High Performance Programme (HPP).
The HPP was launched in 2001 to assist the leading Associate Member countries prepare for the 2003 ICC Cricket World Cup. The Programme played a similar role in assisting the six Associate qualifiers in the lead-up to the 2007 ICC Cricket World Cup, and there are now 10 HPP countries.
The ICC High Performance Manager, Richard Done, assists the HPP countries to produce their own high performance programmes, player development pathways and administrative structures, all of which are directed at improving the on-field performances of their national teams at senior and junior levels.
The HPP countries also receive an annual grant of US$350,000 from the ICC to assist in the implementation of these plans.