The International Cricket Council on Thursday announced that a new qualification tournament featuring 16 teams would take place in early 2012 to give more teams a chance to make it to the ICC World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka the same year.
"A new and expanded global qualification system will be established to give the ICC Associate and Affiliate Members a distinct pathway towards the ICC World Twenty20," read a statement from the ICC.
"The qualification tournament, which has previously involved six or eight teams, will be expanded to a 16-team tournament in early 2012 to give those sides the chance to represent their countries at the prestigious ICC World Twenty20 2012 in Sri Lanka," it added after an ICC Development Committee meeting in Jakarta.
The new-look tournament will feature six teams which currently enjoy ODI/T20I status plus 10 qualifiers from regional Twenty20 events.
"The exact details of the regional qualification network will be announced in due course but the intention is to give all 94 Associate and Affiliate Members a clear pathway of opportunity towards the finals of this truly global tournament," the statement added.
In yet another significant decision, the committee also ledged US $ illion towards major cricket facilities developments in leading and targeted Associates and Affiliate countries.
"These are two extremely exciting, strategic and encouraging developments for the future of our great sport," ICC Chief Executive Haroon Lorgat said.
"They represent a clear sign of our ongoing commitment to growing the game beyond its traditional boundaries and ensuring that each of our members has the opportunity to develop and become the best they can be. Cricket has never been stronger," Lorgat added.