With the ODI Super League, League 2, and the Challenge League all providing a route to the Cricket World Cup in India, we take a look at how the 32 teams from the three tournaments are faring on their journey. At the moment, seven teams have clinched an automatic qualifying slot for the 2023 Cricket World Cup, with three spaces still available at this point.
Cricket World Cup 2023
India, New Zealand, England, Australia, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Afghanistan have clinched their places in the Cricket World Cup. India qualified as tournament hosts, but the team has not slept on its laurels in the Super League, where it now leads the standings with 139 points in 21 games. They will face Afghanistan in a final series to exit the competition, and the Afghans will be glad to know that their Cricket World Cup route has been secured following a solid Super League start.
Clean sweeps over Ireland, the Netherlands, and Zimbabwe set the tone for their campaign, and their 115-point total cannot be surpassed by the pursuing group. Surprisingly, New Zealand, Australia, England, Pakistan, and Bangladesh have all won 12 of their 18 matches so far and can now concentrate on next year’s global championship with their positions already secured.
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Still looking for automatic qualification
West Indies, Sri Lanka, Ireland, and South Africa are all represented. Only one berth for automatic qualifying via the Super League route remains, with a quartet of clubs hoping that the tail end of the season works in their favor. The West Indies are presently in the eighth and last automatic slot (88 points), but have completed their nine-win, 24-match cycle and must sit out the balance of the campaign.
To make matters worse, two points were removed from their total for sluggish over rates against New Zealand in August, allowing the pursuing group to close the gap even more. Meanwhile, Sri Lanka (77 points) and Ireland (68 points) have three matches remaining in their quest to surpass the West Indies. Sri Lanka will finish their campaign in New Zealand in March, while Ireland will host Bangladesh in May.
If one or both nations overcome West Indies in the table, they will be obliged to compete in the Cricket World Cup Qualifier. South Africa (59 points) has three matches against England remaining, and a clean sweep of 30 points would put them ahead of the West Indies. They also have two One-Day Internationals (ODIs) against the Netherlands in March 2023, as part of a series that was postponed in November 2021 owing to Covid.
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Teams ranking ninth through thirteenth will compete in the Cricket World Cup Qualifier in Zimbabwe against teams from the lower levels.
Getting Ready for the Cricket World Cup Qualifier: Scotland, Zimbabwe, and the Netherlands. Even with a memorable victory in Australia in August, Zimbabwe’s dismal Super League start meant an automatic berth was out of reach, and their destiny in the ensuing Qualifier road was determined early. Chevron’s silver lining is that they will host the Qualifier, giving them an advantage over their opponents.
Despite excellent results and taking the game to more-fancied opponents in a difficult Super League field, the Netherlands, the competition’s lone Associate Member, will also compete for slots in Zimbabwe. Long-time rivals Scotland will face them in the Qualifier after finishing in the top three in League 2. Richie Berrington’s team has been consistently strong in League 2 over the last three years, and they will be no pushovers in the Qualifier.
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Oman, Namibia, the United Arab Emirates, and Nepal are all vying for an automatic ticket in the Qualifier.
Because of the circuitous nature of the League 2 cycle, some teams have many matches on each other, while Oman is already in the clubhouse watching the rest of the group play out the balance of the competition.
After 36 matches, Zeeshan Maqsood’s team ended with 44 points (21 wins, one draw, and one no-result), which should be enough to secure a Qualifier slot. However, the men of the sultanate will be keen observers, since Namibia and the UAE, the two teams that may overtake them, will not cross paths again and hence will not nibble away at each other’s points.
Namibia would need four victories in their next six matches to leapfrog Oman, while the UAE would need an unlikely nine wins in their final ten to overcome their neighbors. To finish in the top three, the UAE may need assistance from Nepal and Scotland, Namibia’s opponents in the final tri-series. Those who finish in the bottom four in League 2 are not automatically eliminated from Cricket World Cup qualification, but must first compete in a Qualifier Play-Off, which is essentially a repechage event.
The Qualifier Play-Off begins:
Jersey, Canada, the United States, and Papua New Guinea. After 36 League 2 matches, USA knows their 35 points are insufficient for a top-three finish, therefore they will compete in the Qualifier Play-Off, a six-team game that puts the lowest four of League 2 against the champions of each Challenge League group. There are thus two slots available for the Qualifier. While celebrating T20 Cricket World Cup qualifying in 2021, Papua New Guinea had contrasting fortunes in ODI cricket, never finding their feet in a tumultuous League 2 season, and knew their Play-Off destiny early on.
Jersey and Canada, the champions of their respective Challenge League groups, advance to the Qualifier Play-off. Canada was magnificent in their campaign despite being relegated to the third division at the start of the Cricket World Cup cycle, losing just one match all the way back in September 2019. Jersey, on the other hand, were late movers, winning four of five matches in the last leg to surpass Uganda on Net Run Rate.
All Play-Off matches will have ODI status
Even if they include teams from the Challenge League who did not have ODI status throughout the journey to 2023. The ultimate finishing positions will also decide League 2 and Challenge League slots for the following cycle, as well as each team’s ODI status. The teams who did not place first in their respective Challenge League groups (i.e., neither Canada nor Jersey) are currently out of contention for the Cricket World Cup in 2023.
Teams finishing first to fourth in each of the six-team groups have a guaranteed pathway to potentially qualify for 2027, with the bottom two teams in each group now facing a perilous relegation Play-Off next year containing the top four countries from below who meet requirements regarding national domestic one-day cricket and T20I rating as of 30 September 2023.