An Autopsy: How can Nepal qualify for the ICC World Cup 2019?

Nepal Cricket Team in World Cup

Discussing and dissecting various routes for Nepal’s World Cup qualification: There seems to be major misinformation doing rounds in social media. We get asked different questions regarding Nepal’s World Cup qualification, gaining ODI status, World Cricket League Championship position etc. In this article we will try to answer some of the most common questions asked to us by our readers and also debunk some incorrections.

Nepal is going to face Hong Kong and UAE twice each in the ongoing World Cricket League Championship. Will Nepal qualify for ICC World Cup 2019 if they win 4 remaining matches in the ongoing World Cricket League Championship?

NO. There seems to be a massive confusion in regard to World Cup 2019 qualification. Assumption has been made that the ongoing World Cricket League Championship (WCLC) is ICC World Cup Qualifier, and that Nepal will qualify for the ICC World Cup 2019 if Nepal gets favorable results against Hong Kong and the UAE and finishes among the top 4 in WCLC. However, the ongoing WCLC is a tournament that selects teams that will take part in the ICC World Cup Qualifier 2018. The teams that finish top 4 in the WCLC will get direct entry to ICC World Cup Qualifier 2018. And only 2 finalists of the ICC World Cup Qualifier 2018 will qualify for ICC World Cup 2019.

What will be Nepal’s chances of playing in the ICC World Cup Qualifiers 2018 if Nepal loses 1 or both matches against Hong Kong? What if Nepal fails to finish among the top 4 in the ongoing World Cricket League Championship?

If Nepal wins only one of the two matches against Hong Kong, Nepal will still have chances of directly qualifying for the ICC World Cup qualifiers. However, the results of other teams in the last round of matches will have to go in Nepal’s favor. In this scenario, it will be out Nepal’s hand and the following fixtures will hold major significance – Kenya v Scotland, Hong Kong v Papua New Guinea.

All is not lost if Nepal finishes outside the top 4 of the WCLC if they fail to perform against Hong Kong as well as the UAE. Teams that finish 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th in the ongoing WCLC will get another bite at the cherry. They will be relegated to ICC World Cricket League: Division 2. Namibia and UAE are already relegated to Division 2 with the last round of matches yet to take place in the ongoing WCLC. They will be joined by Oman and Canada, who got promoted to WCL: Div 2 as winner and runners up respectively of the ICC World Cricket League: Division 3 2017 . The six teams will battle it out and the two finalists of ICC World Cricket League: Division 2 will sneak to the World Cup Qualifiers. This tournament will take place in the early months of 2018.

Teams to feature in the ICC World Cricket League Division 2: 2018. Top two teams qualify for ICC World Cup Qualifiers 2018
SN Team Method of Qualification
1. To be determined 5th in the ongoing ICC World Cricket League Championship 2015-17 and relegated.
2. To be determined 6th in the ongoing ICC World Cricket League Championship 2015-17 and relegated.
3. Namibia Relegated from the ongoing ICC World Cricket League Championship 2015-17
4. UAE Relegated from the ongoing ICC World Cricket League Championship 2015-17
5. Oman 1st in ICC World Cricket League: Division 3 2017
6. Canada 2nd in ICC World Cricket League: Division 3 2017

 

Will Nepal get ODI status if they finish among the top 4 in the ongoing World Cricket League Championship? Will Nepal somehow get ODI status even if they finish among the bottom 4 of the WCLC?

It is unlikely that all the teams that finish among the top 4 in the ongoing WCLC will be awarded an ODI status. The ICC World Cricket League calendar is set up such that a 5 year cycle culminates with a World Cup qualifier. And ICC has history of handing out ODI status based on performance in the World Cup Qualifiers, not World Cricket League. So technically, the World Cup Qualifiers is the pinnacle of the entire World Cricket League calendar. So finishing among the top 4 in the World Cricket League Championship will not guarantee an ODI status. Eg. Netherlands finished 4th in the World Cricket League Championship 2011-13 and qualified for the ICC World Cup Qualifiers 2014. They severely underperformed in the World Cup Qualifiers 2014 and ended as the 7th placed team. They lost their ODI status and were relegated to WCL: Div 2. So finishing in top 4 in the WCLC will not guarantee an ODI status. Performance in World Cup Qualifiers is what matters.

Yes, it is possible for a country to finish among the bottom 4 in the ongoing WCLC and yet get an ODI status. In order to do so, the country will have to drop to WCL: Division 2, finish among the top 2 and qualify for the WC Qualifiers, finish among the top countries in the WC Qualifiers. Hong Kong and Papua New Guinea qualified to take part in the ICC World Cup Qualifiers 2014 via the Division 2 route. They outperformed countries like Netherlands, Kenya, Namibia and Canada who had qualified from the World Cricket League Championship, a tournament that is a level above the WCL Division 2. Hong Kong finished 3rd and PNG finished 4th and gained ODI status. So it is possible to gain ODI status even if one qualifies to the World Cup qualifiers via the division 2 route.

ICC handed out Test status to Afghanistan and Ireland in 2017. It is unclear how they envision the ODI picture. If they are planning to expand the ODI landscape, they may provide ODI status to top 4 non Test playing countries of the ICC World Cup Qualifiers 2018 or even all 6 non Test teams if they are generous.

 

What are Nepal‘s chances of qualifying to the ICC World Cup 2019 if they are able to qualify for ICC World Cup Qualifiers 2018?

ICC decided to reduce the number of participating teams from 14 to 10 in the 2019 & 2023 editions of World Cup. Unlike the old format where teams were divided into numerous separate groups, the new format sees every participating country face each other in a mega group stage. They assume this will garner additional interest among spectators all over the world as all the top countries are guaranteed to face each other. As a result, many Associate nations as well some Test nations are bound to miss out on the World Cup. The ICC World Cup Qualifiers 2018 will feature 2 time World Cup winner West Indies, Zimbabwe, Ireland, Afghanistan. Netherlands will likely join them. And only 2 teams out of the 10 will qualify for the world cup.

The ICC had expected Bangladesh will not be able to qualify for the WC 2019 directly, hence  the World Cup Qualifiers 2018 was originally scheduled to be held in Bangladesh. However, Bangladesh was ranked 7th in the ICC rankings on the 30th September 2017 cut-off date and gained direct entry to the WC 2019. As a result, they are unlikely to host the World Cup Qualifiers 2018. Zimbabwe, UAE and a joint bid of Ireland/Scotland are in the running to host the world cup qualifiers in June-July 2018. Nepal severely underperformed in the 2014 World Cup qualifiers held in the alien conditions of New Zealand and finished 2nd from bottom. Should Nepal qualify for the world cup qualifiers, the spinning tracks of Bangladesh could have played in their favor. However, as Bangladesh is highly unlikely to host the qualifiers, Nepal may once again have to play in the alien conditions of Ireland/Scotland or Zimbabwe should they make it to the qualifiers. Will be a tough task toppling the likes of West Indies, Zimbabwe etc. in what may be an alien condition. Making it to the qualifiers and slugging it out with Test nations may serve as a major step in Nepal’s learning curve!

Teams to feature in the ICC World Cup Qualifiers: 2018
SN Team Method of Qualification
1. West Indies 9th in ICC ODI Rankings on 30.09.2017
2. Afghanistan 10th in ICC ODI Rankings on 30.09.2017
3. Zimbabwe 11th in ICC ODI Rankings on 30.09.2017
4. Ireland 12th in ICC ODI Rankings on 30.09.2017
5. To be determined 1st in ICC World Cricket League Championship 2015-17
6. To be determined 2nd in ICC World Cricket League Championship 2015-17
7. To be determined 3rd in ICC World Cricket League Championship 2015-17
8. To be determined 4th in ICC World Cricket League Championship 2015-17
9. To be determined 1st in ICC World Cricket League: Division 2 2018
10. To be determined 2nd in ICC World Cricket League: Division 2 2018

 

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