Posts Tagged ‘world cricket league’

Poor Ajantha Mendis. Little more than a year ago he was the Next Big Thing, the Great White Hope, even the New Murali. Now, not only has he seemingly been usurped in the Sri Lankan pecking order of spinners by Rangana Herath, he may not even be the most prominent cricketing Mendis of the moment.

That distinction falls to Buddika Mendis, one of the stars of Singapore’s campaign in the World Cricket League Division 6 competition. The home side, coached by Trevor Chappell, have gained promotion to Division 5 with a game to spare largely due to the efforts ofthe tournament’s top run scorer so far, including 193 runs in the last two days.

Singapore will now be heading to Nepal next year for the next stage of qualification for the 2015 World Cup, with either Malaysia or Bahrain likely to join them.

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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

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Although the 2011 World Cup is still two years away, qualification begins tomorrow for the 2015 competition with Division 7 of the World Cricket League. After Afghanistan’s heroics over the last year, the minnows of Bahrain, Gibraltar, Guernsey, Japan, Nigeria and Suriname (who don’t seem to have a website) will be hoping for some glory of their own:

  • Gibraltar are a bit of a mystery – I haven’t been able to uncover much detail of their team. If anyone out there is an authority on cricket in the 2.25 square miles of Spain that decided in 1967 that it wanted to stay part of Britain as the locals were all fans of The Beatles, please get in touch
  • Guernsey became associate members of the ICC as recently as last July, but the advantage of hosting the tournament may lift home hopes. The only cricketer from Guernsey that I’m aware of is Lee Savident, who used to play for Hampshire. Near neighbours Jersey are a couple of divisions further up, and the prospect of a Channel Islands derby may provide further motivation, if needed.
  • Japan were as high as Divison 5 in the WCL last year, but have some rebuilding to do. Their experience of playing in Jersey last year should prepare them for conditions in Guernsey, and coach Richard Laidler has high hopes that Japan will rise back up the ladder by finishing in the top 2 this time around.
  • Nigeria had some visa problems in the run-up to the competition, which I hope have been sorted out now. Nigeria actually played their first cricket international way back in 1904 against the Gold Coast (now Ghana), but were subsumed into the West African team for much of the last 40 years. I have to admit to a lack of knowledge of the current team, but hopefully that will change over the next few days.

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Up until today, Ireland were the only unbeaten team in the ICC World Cup qualifiers, and Afghanistan’s fairytale looked like it was coming to an end at the Super Eight stage.

Ireland, however, were bowled out for a mere 196, mainly thanks to Hamid Hassan‘s 5-23, four wickets if which involved breaking the batsman’s stumps. The journey that has taken a group of players from Division 5 of the World Cricket League to victory over a side which not so long ago humbled Pakistan.

Although the Afghans still sit second-from-bottom of the Super Eight table, they are only one win behind Kenya in third place. The odds are still stacked against them (especially with difficult matches to come), but there is hope yet for a fairytale ending.

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The final stage of qualification for the 2011 World Cup gets underway on Wednesday in South Africa, as 12 teams begin the battle for four places at the finals. Some have played at the finals before, whilst others have fought their way up from the obscurity of World Cricket League Division 5.

Canada’s build up to the World Cup Qualifier was severely disrupted when they were forced to cancel their tour of Zimbabwe following an outbreak of cholera, and they have their work cut out to qualify for the finals with a relatively weak side. If they are to make it, much will depend on emerging star Rizwan Cheema, who has made half-centuries against the West Indies and Sri Lanka in the last year.

Ireland made a big splash at the last World Cup in 2007, when they eliminated Pakistan and made it to the Super Eight stage, and the majority of the players involved in that success are likely to be involved again. Eoin Morgan, who has played for the England Lions, may be called up to the full England side before too long, so will want to put in some good performances in what may prove to be his last major tournament for Ireland.

Namibia will sadly be without the player who would undoubtedly have had the best name in the tournament in Kola Burger, but they come into the qualifier off the back of their best-ever performance in South African domestic One Day cricket. The Namibians have traditionally been stronger in multi-day cricket (they narrowly lost out to Ireland in the ICC Intercontinental Cup final), but batting under pressure in a 50-over game still seems to be an issue for them.

Oman isn’t renowned as a cricketing hotbed, and the majority of the side in South Africa will be subcontinental expatriates. Back in 2005 they lost every match in the ICC Trophy group stage, but beat Uganda and the USA in the play-off stages, and whilst they will be definite outsiders, they do have some players who are capable of winning matches.

Scotland emerged victorious last time this competition was held (when it was known as the ICC Trophy), and will be banking of the experience of -amongst others – Gavin Hamilton and John Blain to see them through. A number of the squad have had injury problems in the past, but if key players remain fit over the three weeks, the Scots will be expected to qualify for 2011 with relative ease.

Uganda have long been talked about as a dark horses in associate cricket, but have shown the sort of inconsistency that has brought wins over Kenya and Zimbabwe but also losses to Papua New Guinea. Bowling all-rounder Kenneth Kamyuka has the potential to make an impact, and making the Super Eight stage is a realistic target.

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Afghanistan and Uganda have qualified from Division 3 of the World Cricket League to book their places in the final round of qualification for the 2011 World Cup, edging out Papau New Guinea on net run rate.

Afghanistan and Uganda had been forced to replay their final matches against the Cayman Islands and Argentina respectively following rain on Friday, but neither will have been too upset as both were in difficult situations before the matches were abandoned. Afghanistan in particular were a mere 28 runs away from defeat to the Cayman Islands in their original match, but triumphed in the replay. Uganda were also given a reprieve by the weather, having been 69/4 on Friday, and also enjoyed victory (by 99 runs) in their replay.

Joining the two qualifiers in the World Cup Qualifier – to be held in South Africa in April – will be Kenya, Scotland, the Netherlands, Canada,
Ireland, Bermuda, the UAE, Oman, Namibia and Denmark. Of these 12, four will qualify for the tournament itself, but the top 6 will all be granted full ODI status for four years (and the top 8 will qualify for the ICC Intercontinental Cup).

Personally, I’m very pleased that the remarkable story of the Afghan side is going to continue.

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The next stage in the long road to World Cup qualification gets underway in Buenos Aires tomorrow, with Division 3 of the World Cricket League.

  • Hong Kong, fellow qualifiers from Division 4 in Dar Es Salaam, have a good prospect in 21-year old spinner Nadeem Ahmed, and have fleetingly been impressive in the past against weightier opposition, so will be one of the favourites in my book.

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