The England and Wales Cricket Board has confirmed that the Netherlands will be playing in the Clydesdale Bank 40 League for the last time in 2013.

According to a statement on the KNCB website Gordon Hollins, the managing director of the professional game in England and Wales, has stated that the decision has been taken to include only the eighteen first-class counties in the competition from 2014, when it will be revamped in a 50-over format.

Hollins reportedly said that ‘there were a number of reasons taken into consideration, before arriving at this decision’, naming two of them as the withdrawal of Scotland from the competition and ‘the commercial appeal of non-first class counties’, especially in view of the proposed reduction of the number of home matches from six to four.

He added that the decision, which followed a wide-ranging consultation exercise following a report on the structure of county cricket by former ECB chairman David Morgan, had been taken ‘for logical reasons, but with a heavy heart’, and thanked all those involved with cricket in the Netherlands for their contribution to the CB40 League.

He did not add that the Dutch playing record over the three years of their participation so far was actually better than that of four of the first-class counties and that in the past two seasons, once they found their feet in the competition, the Orange Lions had done better than no fewer than seven of their county rivals.

Unsurprisingly, KNCB chief executive Richard Cox expressed grave disappointment at the news.

‘It goes without saying that this is an extremely disappointing outcome for Dutch cricket and the national team in particular,’ he said on Sunday, ‘especially after we had put a lot of time and effort over the 2012 summer to persuade counties of our presence and role in the competition by interviews and feedback monitoring etc.

‘At the end of the day the ECB’s policy makers have decreed it's not to be.’

Cox added that the Bond looked forward to the announcement within the next month or so of the CB40 fixtures for 2103.

‘We will seek to maximise the opportunities domestically and commercially that 2013 will bring,’ he said, ‘where we still have some exciting CB40 matches to look forward to here in the Netherlands and in the UK.

‘In the meantime we will be looking to advance our International fixture list through the Future Associate Tours Programme to provide a seamless delivery of quality cricket for the Dutch team and the stakeholders of Dutch cricket, all of whom want to see us go from strength to strength.’

After several years of exclusion from the ECB’s domestic competitions the Netherlands joined Scotland in the newly-established CB40 League in 2010, following a memorable appeal by Dutch skipper Jeroen Smits in the wake of his side’s 2009 Twenty20 victory over England at Lord’s and a long subsequent period of negotiation.

They won only one match in their first season, but finished mid-table in their group in 2011 and 2012, winning five matches in each of those campaigns and tying with Derbyshire at Deventer in the first of them.

The ECB’s decision to dump the Netherlands – Scotland’s supposed withdrawal has never been publicly confirmed, was denied by Scottish CEO Roddy Smith in May, and appears to have been known to national coach Peter Steindl, who was quoted on Friday as looking forward to participating in the CB50 from 2014 – will tend to reinforce the impression that the ICC’s Full members care little about the encouragement of the game among the leading Associates and Affiliates.

There is no substitute for regular competition against challenging opposition, and with the honourable exception of South Africa, who invite Namibia to participate in their domestic three-day and one-day competitions, the Full members evidently remain reluctant to offer more than a very occasional, one-off ODI or Twenty20 game to cricket’s emerging nations.

This was, indeed, one of the areas highlighted in Lord Woolf’s governance review, a document which, if its absence from the reports of the ICC Executive Board’s meeting earlier this month is any guide, now seems to have been quietly consigned to the wastepaper basket of history.

Apart from the Future Associate Tours Program, the benefits of which are yet to become apparent, the disappearance of the ECB one-day league from the Dutch programme may encourage the KNCB to pursue discussions with Ireland and Scotland about the possible formation of some form of European League.