Tough to see Northern Ireland making it through here. Such a shame one of Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland have to miss out when Singapore and Sri Lanka always qualify but seem to have digressed. It would probably be a good idea to combine Asia and Oceania and free up more spots for Europe and Africa. Or even have qualifying tournaments that aren’t based on regions, just rankings.
I think how they did it in 99 worked well, and gave more teams/players a chance for exposure – especially now when there are competitions that some of the stand out players could be scooped up into – which we’ve seen has only enhanced some of the other nations – Jamaica/Uganda/Malawi/T&T for example
(from Wikipedia) Fourteen teams entered the preliminary round with four teams qualifying to the main round where they were joined by the top twelve teams from the 1995 championships. The main round saw sixteen teams remaining, be split into two groups of eight with the top four qualifying to the quarter-finals while the remaining eight played in classification matches for 9th–16th placings. (aswelll as the bottom 10 from the original prelim rounds carried on for placings 17-26)