Ireland could play in the 2015 World Cup after the International Cricket Council (ICC) reversed its decision to reduce the tournament to 10 teams.
In April the ICC announced plans to
restrict places at the next World Cup
to its 10 full member nations.
As a result the likes of Ireland, Scotland and the Netherlands would not have been able to take part.
But the world governing body's executive board has now decided to retain the 14-team format.
That means four nations will join India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, England, South Africa, New Zealand, Australia, West Indies, Bangladesh and Zimbabwe at the 2015 tournament, co-hosted by Australia and New Zealand.
Cricket Ireland chief executive Warren Deutrom praised the ICC for its change of heart - and set his sights on making sure Ireland are among those who get to take to the field in the tournament.
He said: "Obviously we are relieved with the decision. The board should be greatly commended in the first instance for agreeing to look again at the matter, and then for being courageous enough to review their original decision - that isn't easy.
Ireland bowler Boyd Rankin
“A lot of us thought we may have played in our last 50-over World Cup, which would have been hard to take”
"We can now get on and focus our energies on more proactive pursuits such as trying to qualify!"
Ireland all-rounder Andrew White added: "It's the news we've been waiting for - it gives everyone in associate cricket the chance to be there in Australia and New Zealand in 2015.
"It's an opportunity we want to make the most of.
"I suppose when some of the best players in the world are campaigning to keep the associate nations in the World Cup, it has got to carry some weight."
And team-mate Boyd Rankin, who was Ireland's leading wicket taker in the 2007 tournament, was thrilled that he may get the chance to play on the big stage once more.
"It's given everyone a real boost," he said. "A lot of us thought we may have played in our last 50-over World Cup, and that would have been hard to take.
"We realise that there's still the qualification hurdle to overcome, but at least we have the chance on the field of play, which is all ourselves and the other Associates have ever asked for."
Apart from Ireland, who
beat England in 2011
Pakistan at the 2007 World Cup,
the other nations outside the ICC's full members to qualify for the 2011 event were Kenya, Canada and the Netherlands.
COMMITTEE RECOMMENDATIONS RATIFIED BY ICC BOARD
- New Future Tours Programme from May 2012-April 2020
- A new decision review system for Tests and ODIs
- A T20 international rankings table to be created by 1 October 2011
- Runners for injured batsmen to be banned in internationals
- In ODIs, batting and bowling powerplays to be taken between 16th and 40th overs, with one ball from each end
- Captains to be suspended for two over-rate breaches in a year, rather than three
- Batsmen can be dismissed obstructing the field if they change course while running to prevent a run-out
- Non-strikers backing up unfairly can be run out
- More research needed on balls for day-night Tests
Scotland, who were at the 1999 and 2007 tournaments, did not dispute April's decision to limit the World Cup to 10 teams but
argued there should be a qualification event.
The possibility of a 12-strong tournament was discussed by the ICC's executive board at a meeting in Mumbai in April but it opted to approve its previous decision to have 10 teams.
The ICC chief executives' committee (CEC) on Monday recommended a qualification process for 2015, but had not made a recommendation on the number of teams.
Despite its U-turn for the 2015 tournament, the ICC has confirmed that the 2019 World Cup in England will be a 10-team event, with the top eight in the ICC rankings earning their qualification automatically and the remaining places being decided by a qualification competition.
The ICC executive board also ratified the introduction of the promotion/relegation system previously agreed.
And it confirmed that the World Twenty20 events in 2012 and 2014 will remain 12-team events (10 full members and two associate/affiliates), retaining a format used since the tournament's inception in 2007.
The ICC board also adopted a number of other proposals made by the CEC on Monday - including
a new Future Tours Programme
running from 1 May 2012 until 30 April 2020.
A new decision review system
, featuring infra-red cameras and audio-tracking technology (commonly referred to as "Hotspot") has been accepted by the board for Tests and one-day internationals but not Twenty20 internationals, although the use of ball-tracking systems such as Hawk-Eye will only be used in series where both countries agree.
The board also agreed with other CEC recommendations for a Twenty20 international rankings table, revised ODI playing conditions and the prohibition of the use of runners for injured batsmen in all forms of international cricket.