2023 ICC World Cup qualifier ODI Super League to begin this week

Originally, the Super League was supposed to commence in May, but because of the pandemic, three series have already been cancelled.
England and Ireland will face-off in the upcoming ODI Super League fixture. (File Photo | AFP)
England and Ireland will face-off in the upcoming ODI Super League fixture. (File Photo | AFP)

CHENNAI: The International Cricket Council (ICC) on Monday confirmed that the ODI Super League – which acts a qualification for the 2023 World Cup – will commence with defending champion England's upcoming three-match series against Ireland, starting in Southampton on July 30.

Originally, the Super League was supposed to commence in May, but because of the pandemic, three series have already been cancelled. With the calendar severely affected, there were calls to scrap the Super League concept -- introduced to add more context and meaning to the 50-over format -- and retain the ranking system to identify the eight qualifiers.

However, with the ICC deciding to move the 2023 World Cup from February-March to October-November meant there were no time constraints. "The decision last week to move the World Cup back to late 2023 gives us more time to schedule any games lost due to COVID-19 and preserve the integrity of the qualification process, meaning it will be decided on the field of play, which is important," ICC general manager Geoff Allardice said.  

While the pandemic situation has improved in certain countries, the sub-continent still remains a hotspot for the virus as there are no guarantees as to when cricketing activities can resume in India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.

Although Pakistan has been looking to play these matches at home, the current situation might force them to look at the United Arab Emirates as their home for the time being. This is understood to be the reason as to why the ICC hasn't announced the revised fixtures for now.

However, the ICC's decision to start the Super League should come as good news for most teams, especially the likes of The Netherlands, Ireland, Zimbabwe as they are now guaranteed to play 24 matches in the next three years.

In the Super League, each team will play four three-match series at home and away with each match carrying 10 points for a victory. In case of tie or no-result, both teams will get five points. Like the ICC Test Championship teams can play each other only once – either home or away – in the Super League. However, there won’t be any knockout fixtures in the Super League.

Teams that finish in the top seven gain automatic qualification to the 2023 World Cup alongside hosts India. The remaining five teams then will play against the Associates in an ICC Qualifier to book the remaining two slots for the 10-team World Cup modelled like the 2019 edition in the United Kingdom.

With the Super League commencing with England taking on Ireland on Thursday, certain changes are expected with regards to the calendar. India for instance were supposed to kick-off their campaign with a three-match series against England this September, which now stands cancelled. Apart from England, the Men in Blue were supposed to face Afghanistan, South Africa, West Indies, Australia, Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe and New Zealand. 

Like the Test Championship, India and Pakistan fixtures will be missing in the Super League. India will also not play any ODIs under the Super League against Bangladesh, Ireland and The Netherlands. However, both Ireland and the Dutch are likely to request the BCCI to play a couple of matches against them when they tour the United Kingdom next year.

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