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Last Updated:  Thursday, 6 March, 2003, 15:19 GMT
Minnows to play more cricket
Dutch captain Roland Lefebvre
Dutch captain Roland Lefebvre supports the new programme
Cricketing minnows will have the chance to raise their standards by playing against each other on a more regular basis.

The International Cricket Council (ICC) has set up a programme, called the World Cup Qualifying Series (WCQS), designed to improve the competitiveness of non-Test playing nations.

The programme will have the ICC's 27 affiliate members and 47 associate members split in small groups of similar ability with promotions and relegations on the lines of the Davis Cup in tennis.

This series will complement the existing ICC Trophy which throws up qualifiers to join the 10 Test nations in the World Cup.

Canada, Namibia and the Netherlands, which took part in the current World Cup, will meet again in Nairobi this summer along with Kenya, United Arab Emirates and Scotland in Division One of the world group.

The only way to become a stronger cricket nation is to play on a regular basis against stronger opponents
Dutch captain Roland Lefebvre
Division Two, comprising of Ireland, Denmark, United States, Bermuda, Uganda and Nepal, are set to play in Los Angeles at the same time between July and October.

Malaysia, Hong Kong, Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Singapore and Argentina will make up Division Three, playing in the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur.

The remaining teams will compete in Division Four with the top three promised a promotion to the next division.

A spread of teams from all four leagues will be chosen to feature in the next ICC Trophy which decides qualification for the 2007 World Cup in the Caribbean.

Six teams from Division One, the top five teams from Division Two and the winners of Division Three will take part.

"The new structure will provide increased exposure for all developing nations," said ICC's development manager Andrew Eade.

Veteran Dutch captain Roland Lefebvre believes the programme will prove vital in improving cricket standards in his country.

"The only way to become a stronger cricket nation is to play on a regular basis against stronger opponents," said Lefebvre.

"The World Cup Qualifying Series will be such an opportunity."


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