A maximum of two Caribbean countries will be able to compete at Birmingham 2022 where women's cricket is set to make its Commonwealth Games debut.

The Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) and International Cricket Council (ICC) announced the qualifying process today with hosts England granted an automatic spot.

The six other highest ranked ICC members in the Women's T20I Team Rankings as of April 1 next year will also qualify directly for the eight-team tournament.

Australia are currently top of the rankings with England second.

India are third, New Zealand fourth, South Africa fifth and Pakistan seventh with these countries in pole position to qualify for the Games, due to take place between July 28 and August 8 in 2022.

But, since athletes from the Caribbean will be representing their countries and not the West Indies - as they are affiliated with the ICC and who are sixth in the world rankings - the winner of a designated qualifying tournament will decide which country gets to compete if the West Indies get a slot, as appears likely.

There is a total of 16 Caribbean countries that compete in the Commonwealth Games, so competition is set to be fierce.

The remaining place will be allocated to the winner of a Commonwealth Games Qualifier, the format and details of which will be announced next year.

The deadline for the Qualifier is January 31 in 2022.

Sri Lanka are currently the top-ranked country not in an automatic qualifying position and are followed by Bangladesh, Scotland, Papua New Guinea and Samoa.

"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.

"We are committed to accelerating this growth and maintaining the momentum we have created over the past few years, which most recently saw 86,174 fans packed into the MCG for the final of the ICC Women's T20 World Cup 2020.

"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."

Edgbaston Cricket Ground is due to stage the competition, only the second time cricket has appeared at the Commonwealth Games following the men's tournament at Kuala Lumpur 1998.

"We are absolutely delighted to have women's T20 cricket debut at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games," CGF President Dame Louise Martin said.

"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 1998, where true greats of the game including Ricky Ponting, Jacques Kallis and Sachin Tendulkar were on show.

"Now is the turn of the women and I can't wait to see the next generation of stars like [England's] Heather Knight, [India's] Harmanpreet Kaur and [Australia's] Meg Lanning take centre stage.

"Birmingham 2022 will be a fantastic showcase for the women's game and the unveiling of the qualification criteria today is an exciting and important milestone as we head towards what will be a spectacular competition at the iconic Edgbaston Stadium."

Australia, as winners of five of the seven ICC Women's T20 World Cups since it was launched in 2009, will start as favourites for the gold medal.

"The women's game has gone to another level over the past few years and its inclusion at the Commonwealth Games is a huge opportunity to take it further," Lanning, the Australian captain, said.

"The announcement of the schedule and qualifying process is an exciting milestone and one that will no doubt create plenty of excitement among players across the globe."