The International Cricket Council (ICC) have rubber-stamped the decision to ensure the next two World Cups are contested by 10 teams, dealing a major blow to associate nations.
The recently completed competition featured 14 sides but the ICC executive board had made their intentions clear last October to cut that by four for the 2015 and 2019 events.
There was opposition from associate nations, who felt their likely exclusion from the World Cup would hinder development, and the cause took on new momentum when Ireland defeated England in the group stages.
The executive board discussed the issue again at a scheduled meeting in Mumbai, with the possibility of a 12-team tournament under consideration.
But instead the board members decided to affirm their previous decision, with only the full member nations invited to the next World Cup before a qualification process is opened ahead of 2019.
A statement read: “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.
“The board agreed that the 2015 World Cup will comprise the existing 10 full members, however, they gave notice to all full members that participation in the 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup will be determined on the basis of qualification.
“It was also agreed that post the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 there will be promotion and relegation introduced in the ODI League.”
Earlier Australian captain Michael Clarke had spoken out in support of minnow nations.
“I really enjoy seeing the minnow teams getting an opportunity to be honest, I guess it’s up to the ICC to work out whatever they think is in the betterment of the game, obviously that’s their priority,” Clarke told reporters before the Australian team’s departure for a short tour to Bangladesh.
Clarke’s predecessor Ricky Ponting called for fewer teams during this year’s World Cup ahead of the ICC’s decision on culling the number of countries for the next edition in Australia and New Zealand in four years time.
Ponting, who stepped down as Australian captain last week, said in February that a balance had to be struck between encouraging the growth of the game and improving the quality of the World Cup competition.
The World Cup format again has been criticised as tediously drawn out during the group stages, meaning it took six weeks to complete the 2011 event in India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.
Clarke agreed that the structure could be improved, but said that shouldn’t necessarily be at the expense of the developing countries, with Ireland most notably adding excitement to the recent World Cup, won by India on Saturday.
“The two World Cups I’ve been involved in have been fantastic,” he said.
“It certainly does feel between games like you have a long period when you’ve got six or seven days between games, but I’ve enjoyed seeing all the minnow teams play.
“We’ve seen throughout this World Cup there was a few upsets where there was some great cricket played,” he added.
Ireland scored one of the biggest upsets in history when they toppled England with a superb run-chase last month, while the Irish also made the Super eight stage in 2007 when they beat Pakistan.
However Kenya, Canada, the Netherlands and Zimbabwe failed to beat a single ‘Test-playing’ nation during the World Cup.