How will the ICC ODI league affect the associates?
The exact format is yet to be seen, but I am assuming that the ICC ODI league will not just be restricted to the Full Members. I believe that it will include at least the top 4 associates, taking the total number of teams in the league to 14. The league will run for 3 years, at the end of which, the ICC can automatically qualify the top 7 to the WC, while 8-13 can play in the qualifying tournament. The top 3 in the qualifier will end up in the WC as well, while the bottom 1 will be pushed out to play in the next ICC Trophy along with the one team that came last in the last in the ODI league. The top 2 teams from the next ICC Trophy will be included in the next ICC ODI League.
I think this would not be a bad format. It would give the 8-9 ODI games per year against Full members that all associates are asking for. Given the additional amount of consistent games, the associates will be able to create a revenue stream and a calender for themselves. Additionally, the associates will have a pathway to the world cup; a team like Ireland can easily qualify for the next World Cup if they manage to beat Bangladesh and Zimbabwe or WI in the qualifying tournament. Also, because of the ICC Trophy qualifiers, new associates who are rapidly improving would also have a pathway to play cricket at global ODI level. The other point is that the World Cup Qualifier tournament, it can actually be made into a revenue product, as at least 3 Full Members would have their participation at stake and would want to watch. Also, you are likely to get much more competitive games between the Test teams and the associates in this tournament. Since only 6 teams would be playing the qualifier, it can be a round robin league.
Now the main question is, am I dreaming or can the ICC come up with a league like this? Or will they just create a league with 10 Full members, and invite 2 teams from the associates to participate in the qualifier? Will counties like Australia and India agree to play/host the associates in such a league?