Associate Cricket: European WT20 Div2 Review / EAP Div1 Preview
Russell Degnan

The ICC conference is the biggest news in associate circles this week. While many people fought hard to have the 10-team world cup over-turned, the over-all outcome is, I believe, a significant negative.

Associate nations take the view that as they play predominantly 50 over cricket, that is the key competition for them to be involved in. While I'm sympathetic to that, they play that form, in part, because it leads to the world cup. There is nothing particularly special about the 50 over game, and no reason why associates couldn't play a mix of T20 and 2-day cricket - closer in fact, to what Australian clubs play. While the 50 over game looks like kicking around for a while yet, its long-term health is shaky, and a lengthy, pointless 10-team tournament might have been enough to kill it.

The greater problem was the arguments being put forward in favour of a smaller tournament and the lack of qualification. A show of associate strength and global support was important, but the arguments remain in place, this time to diminish the World T20, which, with 16 places, would have been a better, shorter, and more interesting tournament than either the flawed 14-team world cup, or a blink-and-you'll-miss-it 12 team cup (based on the previous format).

The goal of inclusiveness and respect is still a long way away, and the prospects aren't fantastic. Not least, because the new FTP, on which I'll have much to say, has reinforced an unequal and diminished competition structure that can only hurt the game, and has no room for new participants.

If associate cricket has one great strength, it is its propensity for tight contests and upsets. As expected, Group B in the European Division 2 WT20 qualifiers was much the stronger. While the Isle of Man waltzed through group A, along with Portugal, Austria surprised both Greece and Spain to come in second to Belgium, the hosts who went undefeated. Their qualification was not without drama however, as they tied with Greece and defeated 5th placed Sweden by a single wicket on the final day.

The playoffs were walkovers, as Muhammad Akhtar wrecked the Manx top-order, taking 4 for 5 and reducing them to 7/10. It was Belgium though, who took the honours, smashing Portugal and Austria in the play-offs to qualify first for division one. Both will have their work cut out to qualify for the world qualifiers (if they can) in late July.

The East-Asia Pacific WT20 qualifiers start this week with PNG the raging favourites. It is an under-strength region for competition, better off split with Asia and Africa (South), or reorganised to include several teams that ought to be in it (China, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore for a start). No matter. Perhaps one day Japan will dominate this region, but for the moment the best hope of an upset will come from Fiji. Only the winner will progress, but T20 is not near as luck prone as made out, and it will be a huge surprise if PNG miss out.

Cricket - Associate 1st July, 2011 08:48:32   [#] 


World Cup
This stuff about everybody and their dog trying to keep the World Cup down to bugger all teams seems hilarious. Why do they bother calling it a World Cup?

Imagine if the skipper of Italian football team came out and said, 'I don't want to play (pick a team ranked lower than 10 or so, any team) I just want to play the top 10 at the next World Cup' which is what Punter did earlier this year. Who do these cricketers and administrators think they are?

It should be called 'The Rest of You Can Get Stuffed' Cup which is what the FTP feels like anyway.

I think T20 is becoming less luck prone all the time. Nice write up about European cricket.
Vim  5th July, 2011 09:14:06  

Associate Cricket: European WT20 Div2 Review / EAP Div2 Preview
Vim, thanks.

Ponting has consistently questioned the credentials of Bangladesh and Zimbabwe as well. At one level I can understand it: he is a professional and he wants to test himself against quality opposition. But it is no way to run a sport.

The new FTP will kill test cricket I believe, but that is a post for another day.
Russ  6th July, 2011 00:48:00