Ireland caused the only upset of the Cricket World Cup, beating England [AFP]

The International Cricket Council (ICC) has confirmed that the 2015 and 2019 Cricket World Cups will be contested by 10 teams, confirming their decision to cut four associate nations from the tournament.

Despite widespread objections, the world governing body endorsed the move at an executive board meeting in Mumbai on Monday, following Saturday's thrilling finale when India lifted the trophy after a tournament featuring 14 teams.

"The executive board confirmed their decision made in October 2010 that the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 in Australia and New Zealand and the ICC Cricket World Cup in England in 2019 will be a 10-team event," a media release said.

Criticism

The two most recent tournaments, held in West Indies in 2007 and India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh in 2011, have attracted criticism for lasting too long, but the move comes despite support from prominent figures for "minnow" nations such as Ireland, Kenya, Canada and the Netherlands, all of whom took part this year.

This year's tournament, won by India on Saturday, had 14 teams competing and lasted for six weeks with Ireland the only non Test cricket playing nation to cause an upset, beating England in the group stage.

Associate member nations who were all knocked out in the group stages of this year's tournament, will have to wait until 2019 to compete again.

The 10 spots available for the 2019 tournament in England will be determined on the basis of qualification.

Ireland pulled off one of the shocks of the 2011 tournament when they came from behind to beat England by three wickets in a thrilling group stage clash.

"I really enjoy seeing the minnow teams getting an opportunity to be honest," Australia captain Michael Clarke said on Monday, echoing earlier comments by England spinner Graeme Swann.

"Why would you want to take the world out of the World Cup?"

Graeme Swann - England

"Why would you want to take the world out of the World Cup? Shocks can happen," Swann told Wisden Cricket magazine.

Cricket Ireland set up a Facebook campaign against the decision, which the body's chief executive Warren Deutrom called "frankly outrageous".

"I cannot think of a decision which is less cognisant of the principles of sport and fair play than the one that has been taken today," he said, in comments posted on the Irish Times website.

"It absolutely flies in the face of all the evidence that has been possible to accrue over the last four years as regards Ireland's performances, not just in the World Cup in 2007 but also in this World Cup and the intervening four years."

The decision means the 2015 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand will be contested by full ICC members: India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, England, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, West Indies and Zimbabwe.

Source: Agencies