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Cricket: ICC 'insider' provides big World Cup boost for Irish

THE last obstacle to Ireland taking part in the 2015 World Cup appears to have been kicked away by an International Cricket Council (ICC) insider confirming that "TV contracts can always be changed."

With the ICC board due to re-visit its decision to exclude the smaller nations from the next World Cup at its annual meeting in Hong Kong tomorrow, there is now no legitimate reason not to hold a qualifying tournament, which would include Ireland.

When the original closed shop decision was taken in April, the ICC said it wanted a streamlined 10-team tournament in Australia and New Zealand, and that its TV deal demanded all 10 Test-playing countries take part in 2015.

While holding out the carrot of a qualifying tournament for 2019 the ICC argued its pre-signed TV contract precluded it in 2015 -- but a highly-placed insider, who has sat on a number of ICC committees, disagrees strongly.

"They can't use that as an excuse," he told the Irish Independent. "TV contracts are always being changed."

He added that his gut feeling was the TV rights holders would go along with any changes in 2015 -- as long as India and England were guaranteed plenty of matches and the length of the tournament wasn't effected.

Meanwhile, Ireland will find out today whether their InterContinental Cup match against Namibia is to be replayed or whether they will be awarded the game. This week's scheduled four-day clash in Belfast was called off on Saturday because some of the African squad had encountered visa problems.

Elsewhere, Kevin O'Brien proved that his World Cup heroics were not a one-off as he smashed the joint second fastest century in English Twenty20 history yesterday.

The Dubliner blitzed his way to three figures in just 44 balls to help Gloucestershire reach a mammoth 254-3 and crush Middlesex.

Irish Independent