British baseball received a boost yesterday with the official confirmation that the national team will be taking its place in next year’s Baseball World Cup. As previously reported, Britain had qualified for the tournament due to their excellent silver-medal showing in the 2007 European Baseball Championships, but their participation was put in doubt by the initial press release issued by the International Baseball Federation in September.
The IBAF listed Great Britain and France together in group D when the preliminary round groups were initially announced. This suggested that there was some uncertainty over which of the two teams would be involved and the fact that the IBAF’s press release states that Britain’s place has now been confirmed, something not deemed necessary for any of the other twenty-one teams, shows that this was the case.
Thankfully, the reasons for the uncertainty have been resolved. Great Britain can now look forward to competing against the might of Japan, the group D hosts Russia, and Nicaragua in the preliminary round of the competition. The latter team are one of five who qualified for the World Cup via the recent Baseball Cup of the Americas competition. They are joined by Mexico, Netherlands Antilles, Venezuela and the tournament winners Puerto Rico.
The news will come as a big relief to British baseball fans. After missing out on the Final Olympic Qualifier earlier this year due to a lack of funds, it would have been extremely disappointing to see the team’s World Cup spot being handed to France. Team GB now has a major international tournament to look forward to next year and a welcome source of hope at a time when baseball’s demotion from the 2012 London Olympics is starting to hit home.