The men's ODI World Cup could increase from 10 to 14 teams under major plans to reform the competition and help globalise the sport.
The number of teams in the 50-over World Cup was controversially reduced to 10 at the 2019 tournament and the competition is planned to remain a 10-team affair for the 2023 event. But support is growing for it to be expanded to 14 countries from 2027.
The number of sides will be debated at a chief executives' committee meeting later this month, which will also discuss the global calendar and the 2023-31 cycle. Other reforms could also see the number of matches in the ODI Super League increase. It is also expected that the T20 World Cup will expand to 20 teams during the next cycle, as previously revealed by Telegraph Sport.
The rise in support for increasing the number of teams in the ODI World Cup is driven by a belief that standards in the emerging game have increased and a more inclusive event would help galvanise interest in cricket around the world. There are now 12 Full Members, meaning that at least two will fail to qualify for each 10-team event. Recent progress in the USA - long identified as a crucial market for the sport - also makes a more inclusive event more attractive.
There were previously 16 teams in the 2007 World Cup, with the number reduced to 14 in 2011 and 2015. The cuts were driven by commercial reasons, with broadcasters aghast after India and Pakistan were eliminated in the first stage of the 2007 tournament by Bangladesh and Ireland.
In place of the current format, which sees the 10 competing countries play each other in a 45-game round-robin stage before the knockouts, the proposed expansion is likely to revert to two groups of seven teams before the knockout stages. However, there is a desire for the pool stages to be snappier, with more days featuring multiple games - a day game and a day-night match.
Warren Deutrom, the chief executive of Cricket Ireland, said that expanding the World Cup was essential to growing the sport in emerging nations, confirming that Ireland were lobbying for the changes in the next cycle.
"Cricket Ireland still believes that 10 teams in a 50-over World Cup is too few. We think that is one of those elements that is a real problem for the game," Deutrom said. "That's certainly something that we are working hard on behind the scenes.
"You could probably successfully argue that as a result of performances in the 50-over World Cup, the likes of Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe, Bangladesh, Ireland - and to a lesser extent Afghanistan - have become Full Members," Deutrom added. "Those are huge opportunities, and the game risks them at its peril."
Deutrom argued that a more inclusive World Cup would also provide emerging nations with greater opportunities to unlock government and commercial income, enabling them to become less reliant on ICC funding. "It's all part of the opportunity to have a really significant visual impact on the domestic landscape."
Earl Eddings, the chairman of Cricket Australia, recently said, "we need 10-20 strong Test-playing nations" and Deutrom believes that a larger 50-over World Cup is essential to boosting global competitiveness in the other formats.
"We believe that better 50-over teams will improve the Test environments as well, and we just think that is cricket logic," he said.
The previous format for a 14-team World Cup saw the top four teams in each pool progressing to the quarter-finals. While that structure could be used again, alternatives are possible.
For instance - similar to the play-off format used in the Indian Premier League - the top two sides in each pool could play-off for a semifinal berth, with the losers of these games then meeting the winners of the matches between the third and fourth-placed sides to join them in the semis.
Such a system would reward the top two teams in each pool by effectively giving them a second chance in the final stages. One criticism of the previous 14-team format was leading sides in the pool stages were insufficiently rewarded.
Another crucial area being discussed is the future of the ODI Super League. The ongoing first iteration of the competition involves 13 teams, but each side only plays eight out of 12 possible opponents.
There is growing support to reform the tournament to see each side play every opponent, which is viewed as giving the competition more sporting integrity - crucial given that it forms the basis for World Cup qualification. But one complication is India's ongoing opposition to playing matches against Pakistan outside ICC events.