The International Cricket Council will stick with a 12-team format for the World Twenty20 championship despite complaints from the associate members and will push to ensure all national boards hold free and open elections before the next annual meeting.
ICC chief executive Haroon Lorgat told a news conference at the conclusion of the annual conference Thursday that the T20 championship format had to stay after cricket's international governing body rescinded a decision to reduce the number of countries contesting the next 50-over World Cup.
The ICC reversed its decision to limit the 2015 World Cup to only the 10 full members and reinstated the 14-team format used at this year's event won by India. But in turn, it has cut back numbers at next year's World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka from a planned 16 to 12, meaning only two associates will qualify.
"We had to take this decision to make sure we retained the balance between the 2015 World Cup and the 2012 World Twenty20," Lorgat said.
But associate members have vowed to continue fighting for more participation in the shortest form of the international game.
"The associates have resolved to press the ICC for more places at the 2012 ICC World Twenty20. We are unhappy. They give with one hand and take from the other," said John Cribbin, Hong Kong Cricket Association secretary, who represents the associate members on the ICC chief executives committee.
"We will challenge that decision, we won't sit back," added Cassim Suleiman, chief executive of the Africa Cricket Association. "It's about giving opportunity to everyone and globalizing the game."
Lorgat acknowledged the concerns of the associate members but said "Financial implications also had a role in this decision and it is now cast in stone."
He said the ICC realized expansion was central to the game's development, but added that the new strategic plan for 2011-2015 was designed to build a bigger and better global game.
Among the other decisions taken at the five-day conference: the 2019 World Cup will be scaled back to 10 teams with the top eight places awarded to the top-ranked teams and the last two places going to qualifiers; the Umpire Decision Review System (DRS) will be mandatory in all tests and one-day matches, with some modifications; and finalizing the Future Tours Program for the next eight years.
"It has been a very busy week in Hong Kong. Tough decisions have been made," ICC president Sharad Pawar said. "I am confident we have made decisions which are in the best interests of the game. There have been challenges, as always, but the great community of cricket showed that it was ready and capable of facing those challenges."
One unresolved issue was the concept of scrapping the rotational policy for the appointment of the ICC president in 2014. That decision has been delayed until the executive board meeting in October.
Both the Pakistan and Bangladesh Cricket Boards - whose turn it will be in 2014 to take over the ICC hierarchy of president and vice president - had opposed moves to abandon the traditional rotation of the posts every two years.
"This has been put on hold for the moment. We will address the issue again until we get the recommendations from our independent governance review," Lorgat said.
In the meantime, the annual conference unanimously supported a proposed to the amend to the ICC Articles of Association to insist on free elections and the independence of member boards.
All member boards must implement the new provisions, which mean national federations should be autonomous and free from government interference, before the next annual conference in June 2012.
"This is a significant step toward achieving best practice and, together with the independent governance review, I am excited by the commitment of the ICC to introduce best possible corporate governance," Lorgat said.