With almost two full years to go until the 2011 World Cup, qualification for the 2015 competition is already well underway, with the World Cricket League (sadly, unlike the World Soccer League, not featuring the Timborary Shamrocks) having reached the Division 6 stage in Singapore. Bahrain, Botswana, Malaysia, Guernsey, Norway and Singapore will all be competing for the two places available in Division 5, to be held in Nepal in early 2010.
- Bahrain have already had to qualify for this stage, winning Division 7 back in May, due in no small part to the wickets taken (and the half-century scored in the final) by Qamar Saeed. As well as Saeed, Adil Hanif (the second-highest run-scorer in Division 7) will be key. Confidence will be high, but Bahrain have never faced most of the other sides in the competition, so it’s hard to say what reasonable expectations would be.
- Botswana have prepared for the tournament with a training camp in Sri Lanka, and are apparently the fifth-best non-Test team in Africa, but that’s the sum of my knowledge of the game in Botswana, I’m afraid.
- Guernsey, like Bahrain, qualified from Division 7, having been associate members of the ICC for less than a year at the time. Having enjoyed home advantage back in May, things will be harder this time around, but if Jeremy Frith can find form with the bat, then progression is possible.
- Malaysia beat Singapore earlier this month in the Stan Nagaiah Trophy, which they will hope proves to be a good omen. The Malaysian side will be hoping that conditions will be in their favour, and that the likes of Thushara Kodikara and Suresh Navarathnam can inspire them to victory.
- Norway dropped down to this level after finishing 9th in Division 5 last year, and will be hoping to bounce straight back with a strong showing this time around. Most of their players are of subcontinental origin, with the majority of Pakistani descent, but there are few if any names amongst their squad that mean anything to me.
- Singapore are coached by Trevor Chappell, who hopefully won’t have encouraged the side to start bowling underarm. Home advantage may be crucial, but defeat to Malaysia in the build-up may have knocked the side’s confidence