New Zealand play host to next month's cricket World Cup qualifier but are not certain to play in the 2019 tournament with the qualifying process set to change drastically.
The date and venues were yesterday announced for a 10-team, 34-match qualifying tournament from which the final two World Cup 2015 teams will be found.
Canterbury was the big winner and will host games at Christchurch's Hagley Oval, Rangiora and Lincoln while matches will also be played in Mt Maunganui, New Plymouth and Queenstown.
New Zealand World Cup boss Therese Walsh said Canterbury worked for a number of reasons.
"We need the [qualifying tournament] to test some things in Christchurch," she said.
"Training facilities, warm up game facilities so that all works for us.
"Also, we were looking for places where there are really good hubs, Canterbury is a natural one."
Availability of grounds was also an issue with international and both men's and women's domestic cricket going on at the same time.
It is understood to be the last qualifying tournament of its type and the format will be different for the 2019 World Cup in Britain.
Changes were mooted for the 2015 tournament - jointly held by New Zealand and Australia - and its qualifying process, but some ICC associate nations complained.
A qualifying tournament was reintroduced and that event, from January 13 to February 1, will be the last of its type.
ICC president Alan Isaac said the next World Cup qualifying process would be "very different".
The 2015 event is a 14-team tournament and all 10 full ICC member nations receive automatic entry.
The 2019 version will include just 10 teams and an as yet undecided amount of automatic entry spots, based on their official ODI ranking.
That would make ODI series' more crucial and could see associate members playing in a league format similar to how they do now as well as more games against full members in between World Cups.
Isaac predicted next year's tournament to be more exciting than some expected.
"The interest around the world will be huge," he said.
"Cricket is really big in a number of these countries. Nepal were playing Afghanistan recently, at home, and the stadium had about 30,000 people in it. They reckon the capacity is about 15 thousand.
"We think of passion and that we're passionate about rugby, but I'm not sure we quite understand how passionate some of these smaller cricketing nations are."
Walsh said the qualifying tournament would act as a dress rehearsal for the tournament proper and it was a New Zealand Cricket decision to bid for the qualifiers as a way of building interest and momentum for the World Cup.
Christchurch will also host six warm-up matches - featuring Kenya, Hong Kong, Scotland, PNG, Namibia and Nepal - at Christ's College, St Andrew's College and Burwood Park on January 10 and 11.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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