Associate Cricket: African Div1 Review / European/Americas Div1 Preview
Russell Degnan

After struggling through their first few games, Uganda no doubt shocked everyone in beating an otherwise dominant Namibia in the final of the African division 1. Both sides had already qualified for the WT20 qualifiers, going undefeated against their competition, which included a young Kenyan side, and a surprisingly competitive Nigeria and Ghana. Namibia was probably disadvantaged by a rusty middle order in the final as for much of the tournament their top-three of van der Westhuizen, Williams and Burger piled on the runs: 1191 in 9 games at 10 runs per over. They put on 92 in the final, but it wasn't enough as Mukasa (the only other century scorer in the tournament) led the Ugandan chase.

It is hard to know what to make of Kenya, given it was an under-19 side they might consider it a success to come in third (though 4th in the table), but they were well off the pace. Ghana finished last, but impressed, losing several games by tight margins, while Nigeria did equally well, picking up three wins. Both sides have a glut of young players. If opportunities to develop continue to be found the future of African cricket looks bright.

Americas T20 Division 1 will also see two teams move through to the WT20 qualifiers. Canada are clear favourites, but having qualified already their only aim is to win the tournament, and have sent an under-strength side. USA and Bermuda are the highest ranked teams, but all three of the Cayman Islands, Suriname and Argentina are capable of an upset. Bermuda has drifted down the divisions of late as their world cup side ages, and look vulnerable if one of their competitors finds form.

The European T20 Division 1 could go to any number of sides. As hosts, Jersey and Guernsey will be competitive, as will Italy and Denmark as he highest ranked competitors. As the top two teams go through the qualifiers will be decided by the semi-finals, so a certain amount of luck will be needed for whoever emerges out of those four competitors.

Of the rest, Germany and France are slowly becoming more serious European competitors, and Israel are worth watching given their distinctly home-grown squad. All three are in Group B, along with division 2 champions Belgium. Norway and Croatia are the most likely competitors to Italy and Guernsey in group A, but you never really know at this level, or in T20 cricket.

Cricket - Associate 16th July, 2011 02:24:01   [#]