Dubai: Six highest-placed teams in the ICC rankings as on 1 April next year along with hosts England will get direct qualification to the 2022 Commonwealth Games' women's T20 competition, which will make its debut at the quadrennial showpiece in Birmingham.
Women's cricket will be a part of the Commonwealth Games for the first time ever when the 2022 edition gets underway in Birmingham from July 28 to August 8.
The ICC and the Commonwealth Games Federation unveiled the qualification process for the event on Wednesday.
"Besides England, six other highest ranked teams in ICC Women's T20I Rankings as of April 1 next year will also qualify directly for the eight-team tournament, which will be held in Edgbaston," the ICC said in a statement.
It will only be the second time that cricket will feature in the event after a men's competition was part of the Games in Kuala Lumpur in 1998.
The Indian women's team is currently placed third in the ICC standings behind England.
The remaining one place will be allocated to the winner of a Commonwealth Games Qualifier, the format and details of which will be announced in due course. The deadline for the Qualifier is January 31, 2022.
"Cricket at the Commonwealth Games is a fantastic opportunity for us to continue to grow the women's game globally," ICC Chief Executive Manu Sawhney said in the release.
"We are committed to accelerating this growth and maintaining the momentum we have created over the past few years ... I thank the Commonwealth Games Federation for their support and for making this possible.
"We share with them the vision of greater equality, fairness and opportunity in sport and I am sure Birmingham 2022 will go a long way towards us achieving our common objectives."
Since athletes from the Caribbean will be representing their countries and not the West Indies (as they are affiliated with the ICC), the winner of a designated qualifying tournament will decide which country gets to compete if the West Indies get a slot, the release said.
Commonwealth Games Federation President Dame Louise Martin said: "We are absolutely delighted to have women's T20 cricket debut at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.
"Cricket has always been one of the Commonwealth's most popular sports and it is so special to have it back at our Games for the first time since the men's competition at Kuala Lumpur ... Now is the turn of the women and I can't wait to see the next generation of stars take centre stage."
Captains of leading women's teams, including India skipper Harmanpreet Kaur, were thrilled at the prospect of women's cricket featuring in the Games.
"The inclusion of cricket at the Commonwealth Games is huge for all players and the game in general," Kaur said.
"I hope to be there at the games and wish that it is a great success with some engrossing matches and high quality of cricket."
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