New Delhi: Relenting after severe criticism, the International Cricket Council to include four associate nations in the 2015 World Cup which will make the marquee event a 14-team tournament.
Associate nations such as Ireland and Netherlands not be dumped out of 2015 World Cup as the tournament will comprise 14 teams, a change from the original ten-team format.
Four associate teams will line up alongside ten full members in Australia and New Zealand, just like it was during the 2011 World Cup. The decision to reinstate the associates, which was taken on the third day of the ICC's annual conference in Hong Kong, is a reversal of the ICC's heavily-criticised move to restrict the 2015 tournament to the full members.
The ICC in April had decided to restrict the 2015 World Cup to top ten nations only, much to the dismay the associate nations who strongly protested the decision.
The decision to put a cap on the teams had come due to criticism of the tournament's lengthy format.
The CEC stopped short of putting a seal on the number of teams for the tournament but the decision raised hopes of teams like Netherlands, Ireland, Canada and Kenya to feature in the 2015 edition of the event to be held in Australia and New Zealand.
ICC President Sharad Pawar took up the cause of the minnows by asking its board to reconsider the decision.
Among other recommendations was an unspecified qualification process for the 2015 ICC World Cup, giving hope to minnow nations such as Ireland and Netherlands.
The suggestions will come into effect from October 1 if approved by the Executive Board.