Opinion: Lack of benchmarking tournaments……
The ICCs regulations for full member criteria clearly define that they would be looking at the performances of a country at 3 levels. The national level, the U19 level, and the A team level (this should be the second XI level rather than the strict A team definition).
While there is always talk of the lack of oppurtunities for teams to display their mettle in the full national level, I believe the structure is non existant for the A team level. Taking the example of Kenya, Ireland, and Scotland, there is hardly any tour for their A teams to be taking on the A teams of other countries, if for benchmarking purpose if nothing else. Full tours at the A team level may not be possible under the current ICC budget, but at least an annual tournamanet featuring the A teams of 3 weakest Test teams (Zim, Ban, WI), and 3 strongest associate teams (Ire, Sco, Ken) can definitely be done.
The U19 level is better, though it can be improved. What the ICC is missing, and I have mentioned this before as well, is an ICC Trophy type 10 team event from where 6 associates actually go through to the U19 World Cup. It would first of all, ensure that the top 6 teams in the associate world are going in the world cup (no wondering by Malaysia if they were better than the Europeans, and no wondering by Netherlands if they were better than the Africans). Secondly, it would also give the oppurtunity for the stronger regions at the U19 level to get more of their teams through, as opposed to the current structure which is regional based.
Btw….. lot of people have mentioned the fact that the Kenyan team sucks at the u19 level because Uganda and Namibia, 2 teams that did not light the U19 WC on fire either, qualified over them. I would like to point out that both these teams finished the U19 WC over Scotland. So kenya can technically argue that they may be better than Scotland U19!.