16 teams for World Cup 2007, final format to be agreed

MUMBAI: The ICC Cricket World Cup 2007 will feature 16 teams but the final format for the event is still to be agreed after the ICC Board discussed the issue in Barbados on Thursday.

While the board agreed to expand the tournament to 16 teams (from the 14-team format at this year's event) divided into four groups of four, there was no consensus on the most effective format for the tournament beyond the group stage and the meeting considered the request from its commercial partner, Global Cricket Corporation to play more games than the originally proposed 42 matches.

An increase in the number of games would probably benefit Sony Entertainment Television India, which has the cable and satellite broadcast rights for the subcontinent.

ICC chief executive Malcolm Speed said, "The Board decided that expanding the tournament to 16 teams was an appropriate step but wanted to further investigate the best structure for the tournament beyond the group stage before making a final decision on format."

ICC chief executive Malcolm Speed said, "The Board decided that expanding the tournament to 16 teams was an appropriate step but wanted to further investigate the best structure for the tournament beyond the group stage before making a final decision on format."

"Given the complex logistical associated with holding this event in the West Indies, there needs to be a further analysis of the impact of these formats," Speed said.

ICC refuses to relent on money withheld to BCCI

No money currently withheld by the ICC to deal with the claim for compensation by Global Cricket Corporation will be returned to countries until a series of strict conditions are met the ICC has announced.

These conditions will include:

The ICC's independent auditors and lawyers agreeing that the release of any money is a prudent and appropriate action;

The independent advisors agreeing to the appropriate amount of money, if any, that should be released;

That any member country wishing to access any money that is freed following this professional advice must give an unconditional and irrevocable legal undertaking to pay back the money if required. This may take the form of a bank guarantee.

ICC President, Ehsan Mani, said that these conditions were put in place with the unanimous support of the board in order to provide those countries that wished to access their money for their own reasons with a mechanism that would allow this to occur while also protecting the overall interests of international cricket.

"Before the ICC can contemplate allowing any country to access the money currently being withheld, it is important that we have the necessary external professional advice to establish if this action is appropriate. This will be obtained in the coming weeks," said Mani.

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