Sunday, 18 December 2011

Time for a Multi Tier Test System

The performance of Associate XI against the no 1 test team till the time I am writing the article is commendable.ICC Associate Comb XI  made 281 and have already reduced England XI 140/6. This team is surely world class and surely calls out for more chances for Associate players. On the other hand I see the team of Bangladesh. They have been terrible at all places. They even lost the Test Match to Zimbabwe who made a comeback after 5 years. It is well known that if Associates like Ireland and Afghanistan play more matches against likes of Bangladesh and Zimbabwe they would not be thrashed around by these test nations.

More nations should be allowed the White Dress and not be limited to a select few

But another thing people ask is what is the big deal for Test Status. How does it make a difference. Well for the people who are not aware I will list down the benefits of being a Test Nation.

1. First and foremost the Test Nations get direct entry to World Cup, World Twenty20 or Champions Trophy. The associates for the same have to really fight it out like for 2012 World Twenty20 for the 2 spots 16 teams will be fighting.

2. The Test Nations get yearly around 7.5 M$ as money from ICC as participating fee for various ICC tournaments while the Top 6 Associates get around 0.6 M$ while a normal associate get 0.1 M$ while the Affiliate get a joking 15000$ a year

3. The Test Nations get to be a part of FTP where when they host other nations for Bilateral series which entitles them to earning. An India, Australia, England or Pakistan visiting you brings in good incomes in form of TV Rights.

4. As a Test Nations you get to be the part of the Executive Committee where all the power of ICC lies. The Test nations have 1 vote each while the 36 Associates have just 3 votes. You cannot dream of becoming head of ICC as this post is reserved for Test Members based on rotating system.

Seeing these benefits, one feels why Bangladesh and Zimbabwe hold the right while likes of Ireland, Kenya, Afghanistan or Scotland do not have it.

Many people will point out that Cricket is hugely popular in Bangladesh and they have shown performances that point towards improvement. OK agreed but then why limit the chances to Bangladesh and not to other nations. Or more importantly we need to establish a system where in the better performing nations get a chance to move up while the nations which are not up to the mark move downwards. 

In short it is time for a Multi Tier Test System. Under the present system the Members should be divided into 3 Tiers of I II & III. The present ranking would mean

TIER I:- Australia, England, India, New Zealand, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, South Africa & West Indies
TIER II:- Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Canada, Ireland, Kenya, Netherlands, Scotland & Zimbabwe
TIER III:- UAE, Namibia, PNG, Hong Kong, Bermuda, Uganda, Oman & Italy
Rest of the Teams would be in the below Tier

The ICC funding should be directly linked to the Tier which a team is in. There should be a significant drop in funding if you drop in tier but not like the present system where the difference between Top Associate and Test Nation is around 12 times. A more reasonable number can be around 2 times. 

The tier should run for a period of 4 years at the end of which the Bottom 2 teams of the Tier Play against the Top 2 of the lower Tier. In this tournament of 4 nations the Top 2 go to the higher Tier and bottom 2 to the lower tier. The top 4 teams in Tier 1 play in the World Test Championship.

This Multi Tier would have many advantages 
1. All the Boards give most importance to the Top format because it will be linked to their funding. This would bring Test surely as the top format
2. It will bring excitement to all the Bi Lateral Test series even of the likes of Aus V NZ or Ind V WI as it can be required for Aus or Ind to be in the Top 4 while NZ and WI may be fighting to remain aloof of the Bottom 2 slots.
3. It would give fair chance to all the teams in ICC and Tests will not be a privelage available to you if you are born in certain country. It would give a chance of Associates like Ireland or Scotland to retain their players and not lose them. 
4. It will make all the nations introduce multi day format in their domestic circuit and would definitely improve the quality of cricket
5. Cricket would not be limited to 8 or 9 nations. Personally I am bored of Watching India play Aus, SL or England again and again. Seeing India play an recently upgraded team of say Ireland or Afghanistan will retain the excitement factor. It would not mean Bangladesh being bashed again and again but some different teams be bashed or rather fighting to save the Test rather than a complacent Bangladesh.

There have been various voices for Revamp of the ICC structure. This surely is the way forward and sooner ICC things about it the better it is for them.

Monday, 12 December 2011

ACC T20 is over but what about Asia Cup

The Afghan's won the ACC T20 for a record 3rd time. The tournament has been held just 3 times and each time the Afghans have emerged winners (Though the first time joint winners). The Afghan's have been doing everything right in cricket but does it really matter. First they started with the dream run of qualifying to the World Cricket League Division 5 and from there qualifying to the World Cup Qualifiers barely just missing the world cup spot though gaining the ODI status. Then they grabbed just 2 spots for ICC World Twenty 20 becoming the first associate so do so. Then they won the Inter Continental Trophy as well as Asian Games silver. This couldn't be anything better than this. Adding to this the Afghan's have proved that they are cut above the rest by winning all ACC Tournaments they have been playing.

The ACC Champions:Afghanistan (c)Asian Cricket Council

Now we ask shouldn't this team be playing in the Asia Cup. Surprisingly the big four of Asia say no. The Asia Cup has been known to give a chance to the Asian Associate irrelevant to their standing at World Level. Even when Bangladesh was not a top Associate Globally they still got to play in the Asia Cup several times. They were pathetic but still the teams never had any problems. Then the Asia Cup became more considerate with it including the top 2 Associates. Both times UAE and HK got a chance. But come 2010 this has suddenly changed.

The 2007 WC Expierence has brought in hell for Associates. With India and Pakistan both losing Associates rather than Complacency was being blamed for that. in 2010 the Asia Cup was reduced back to 4 from 6 a huge step backwards. Time has being given as a reason. Due to this fact the 2012 Asia Cup is again a 4 nation tournament.

The Asia Cup is a revenue earner for ACC besides the huge 50% Allocation they get out of ICC Development fund. The big 4 nations just get a participating fee. With BCCI becoming more and more arrogant over time this meant the small participating fee seemed too small. Adjusting to a 6 nation tournament was simply impossible and ACC needed money. Hence they had to agree.

The Associate nations have been asking for a few set of matches. The only difference between Bangladesh, Zimbabwe, Ireland or Afghanistan is that the first 2 get 7.5% Share of Funding which is about 7 to 8 times more than the latter 2. The First 2 also get a chance to earn through the tours of various countries like India, Australia or England while the latter 2 simply do not get it. This has made even Bangladesh arrogant not to play against team like Ireland or Afghanistan very well knowing that a defeat would bring questions on their test status. So it rather prefers not to play rather than playing a Afghanistan or Zimbabwe

So in such a condition what should ACC do. The answer is very simple. The ACC wants the Asia Cup for money and if possible for exposure to new countries. So what is the format that brings most money and also is recognized globally as a tool for expansion. Yes my friends you are right the answer is T20.

The ACC should consider making the Asia Cup a T20 tournament. This solves many of their problems
1. It is much more easy to adjust in busy schedules of India, Pakistan or Sri Lanka since T20 takes less times
2. T20 gives possibility of higher incomes
3. More teams can be adjusted in the tournament
4. The tournament gives ACC a chance to expand the game into more nations hence widening the possible income stream
5. Less wear and tear for the players

Hence the answer is clear. It is high time Asia Cup cup for 20 overs now. It should be a 8 team tournament with top 4 Associates joining the 4 test nations. T20 games can be more competitive with more chances of upset which makes the whole thing interesting. The tournament should have 2 pools of 4 each followed by semi's and finals.

After the present tournament the line would have been

Pool A:- India, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Nepal
Pool B:- Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Hong Kong, Oman

This would mean both Afghanistan and Nepal have a chance to prove a point against Bangladesh and the Bangla's cannot take it easy. Similarly a resurgent Hong Kong and Oman will have a expeirence they will never want to forget.

It is said life goes in circles. The ICC was a closed house then they expanded by adding 3 test nation to present 3 then closed door outside commonwealth then opened to new nations as Associates then kept the test nation guarded as 6 then expanded the cricket to increase membership to 105 and 16 nations world cup before closing. Now it is time for expansion. I hope it comes soon and cricket goes with the market and not as a communist system.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Will weather favor Nepal, Afghanistan in ACC Twenty20

“Climate is what we expect, weather is what we get.” -Mark Twain

 The Climate for the tournament will surely be electrifying which most of the Associate Players may not be lucky enough to see but the weather in Kathmandu will surely favor a few. The 2 times champion Afghanistan and the hosts Nepal both will definitely will get an Advantage from the weather. If we look at the average maximum and minimum temperature it will say it all

"It surely is cold at a few places only"
As we can see in the coldest month in Asia only 3 capitals i.e. Kathmandu, Kabul and Thimpu are in the temperate zone and rest are in the tropical zone. The max temperature in December is 19.4 C and min is just 3.0 C. This means we will have cold morning and evening.

Weather surely plays a very crucial factor in cricket. The cricket ball is very hard. In cold temperature the hands tends to become numb and effect the holding of the ball. For people of colder places like Nepal, Afghanistan or Bhutan it will not be much of a problem since they are used to it. However imagine a player who comes from Dubai or Malaysia, where it never gets cold through out the year. For such players it will be coming from 36 C to 20 C. It effects the performance specially fielding and bowling. 

Secondly the cold weather means thin air, which means more swing. The Pacer of Afghanistan or local stars will know how to extract the maximum.

Afghanistan are the champions and though this tournament means nothing for qualification but it surely is pride. The Rivalry between Nepal and Afghanistan is not any less than that of India Pakistan

Nepal has a huge home advantage that will boost it's morale. The weather also can be used to maximize its performance. Nepal will never have a better chance to boost it poor track record in T20

All things said and done, the teams are expected to perform in all circumstances. Since it the start of December there is a possibility that it will still not be that chilling. Also many of the players in the Gulf teams are from northern part of sub continent where also it get very cold and would be used to it. Finally to close I have a beautiful anonymous quote

“Whether the weather be fine, Whether the weather be not, Whether the weather be cold, Whether the weather be hot, We'll weather the weather, Whatever the whether, Whether we like it or not”

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Dassanayake: 5 next things expected from Him?

When I heard the name of the new coach it told me everything that is expected from him. If we have a little knowledge of Sanskrit, then Dassanayake means Dassa (Ten)-Nayake(Heroes) which corresponds to creating 10 heroes (1 failure per match is human :) ). This is what Nepal would be expecting from him. He needs to create 10 heroes who will guide Nepal to level of success never seen before.

Will Dassanayake deliver the Das Nayaks?

The coach has got huge expectations lined up in front of him. Though not as per expectation of the fans winning ACC Twenty20 was not there but Nepal reached the top 4 which meant they are playing the World Twenty20 qualifier. If all goes well then we can see Nepal playing at the international stage for the first time.

Then another important tournament is also coming up in 2012- The all important ICC World Cricket League Division Four. This forms a part of qualification process of 2015 World Cup.

The coach also has a moral booster for him with a complete revamp of CAN going on. If all goes well we can have a much more democratic and open coach which he would relish

As per the people who met the coach, he seems to be a very tactful person. He has done his homework very well and his skills are making him very popular with the players but he has a full mountain to climb in front of him. If I have to list the coach needs to get few tick marks if he wants Nepal to qualify for international stage and make the team as successful as their Afghan rivals. However it is easier said than done. There are many things the coach needs to fulfill. If I have to list these are the following things the coach has to take care of

1. More exposure to the team
The team plays on average just maximum of 20 days of International cricket and 10 day of domestic cricket. Under these circumstances if you ask the coach and team to deliver is virtually asking me to climb Mount Everest tomorrow.
Here CAN should be pushed for more matches and exposure for the team. Perhaps the coach can use his contacts for getting Nepal team some domestic matches in Sri Lanka. Or perhaps the best option of Playing in Ranji would be the ultimate thing. However as an alternative playing against the Ranji teams ofUP and Bihar Teams would be an exposure that would also be useful. Sri Lanka in it's infancy days used to play regularly against Tamil Nadu. Kenyan team uses it Indian contacts to regularly get Ranji teams like Gujarat, Baroda or AP to play against the Kenyan Team

2. Strengthening the domestic Circuit
The coach needs to have choices to pick the squad. For a T20 different style of players are required than an OD or a longer format. Also the domestic players need to have to played enough matches to have gained enough confidence before facing the final stage. The domestic circuit needs to be made longer. Besides the T20,  3 day matches tournament consisting of all 10 teams playing each other is required. Under the present circumstances playing a tournament with a maximum of 6 one day matches is too short an exposure for a budding cricketer. As an coach this things needs to be very strongly pushed by the coach

3. Batting
Nepal is known to have a better bowling than batting line up. The batting is the one that has let the team down at many occasions. This is the top priority Area if the team has to be as successful as it's biggest rival-The Afghans.With more exposure and coaching tips this thing can surely improve. However in case of this not happening, then the coach needs to develop technique of preparing the team in Batting skills. Also the coach needs to Identify some young talents and giving them the right exposure and preparing them for the future. If the youth gets the confidence this brings in the right competition and no player get complacent.

4. The Pace Battery
This is critical area no 2, as important as Batting. Again I take the example of Afghan's. Hamid Hassan is world class. He has made all the difference for the Afghans. Here the coach would need to all the Hard Work. The Batsman are there. There just need to be refined. But for the pace battery, both a short term and long term strategy needs to be there. In short term like batting more exposure for pacers is required
However for long term a complete process of scouting needs to be there. Potential raw talents needs to be identified and developed for future. If 2015 WC is in sight then 2012 is when the potential needs to be looked, 2013 all set to face the associates to take Nepal to 2015 World Cup and finally in 2015 ready to perform at the big stage.

5. A bridge between CAN and Players
CAN is going through a phase of Change. What is coming is not known if the elections will bring more accountability or bring in more politics.  Whatever happens at the top, the players should be shielded from it. These are critical times for the team and players. If all goes well they can make it to the biggest stage or who knows whether there would be a second chance or not.
We have seen some right steps like 5000 Rs Stipend, This needs to be extended to full time contracts which even Japan is offering (It is in Div 8 and Cricket would not be in top 10 sports there!!!). Besides this team selection on performance rather than names would be be the thing that will boost the morale of players.
Hence these would be the 2 areas the coach needs to ensure he is a proper bridge between CAN and Players. The coach needs to use his strong personality to ensure absolute adherence to these areas.

The challenges are huge in front of the coach. Usually the coaches are not expected to go beyond the cricketing area but Mr Dassanayke, to create the 10 Heroes we will require a SuperDassanayke from him. Best of luck and I personally have huge hopes from him.

Friday, 4 November 2011

What can the coaches expect from SAARC Twenty20

The SAARC Twenty20 is on in full steam. We have seen some good contests but mostly one sided contests. In this tournaments where Bangladesh did not even send a team and India send a team that is not even a Ranji team. So from this tournament what should coaches of different countries expect

1. Afghanistan
Afghanistan is placed in a very easy group. The coach should not expect any tough competition in the league stage and has happened that way. It is here the coach should have used the bench strength and tried various new players and youngsters. Then in the Semi Finals and Finals the Afghan should put in the best team as it would be against the stronger teams of Sri Lanka and Pakistan. Afghan should definitely aim to win this tournament

2. Bhutan
Bhutan is one of the weakest teams in the group. The coach here should put his best team and try to get the best performance. They had a chance to qualify to next stage by defeating Maldives (Though they did not do it) and then perhaps more exposure against the strong teams of Pakistan and Sri Lanka. The coach should have relished the cricket team is playing after a long time

3. India
India has send not even a A or B or C but rather a Z team. It is not even one of the 24 Domestic Ranji teams. The players here perhaps would never get a chance of representing India and same maybe the case for the Coach. The coach should have got the best out of the players and perhaps got some recognition for himself.

4. Maldives
The coach will be coaching the hosts. He has big responsibility. He has perhaps the toughest task of taking his team beyond expectations. On a positive side, the team will never get a greater exposure than this and should relish this
Dassanayake: He perhaps has the toughest job in the tournament

5. Nepal
This tournament is perhaps most critical for Nepalese Coach. He is a new coach and the team is new to him. The team has a critical tournament of ACC Twenty20 coming up ahead which they are hosting. The team was always short of exposure and this tournament could not have come at the right time. The coach should be happy they got the tough group and will get all the exposure. Nepal should have aimed to perform and excel. They have not been able to do so. They have lost to Sri Lanka and just managed to go past the non existent KIC so called Indian team. The match against Pakistan is crucial and the Nepalese should not be happy with the win against KIC.

6. Pakistan
The coach is commanding perhaps the strongest team in the tournament. The coach has set of boys who would to prove themselves and perhaps break into the national squad. he should get exceptional performances and lead them to the title

7. Sri Lanka
The teams can be seeded second behind Pakistan. The coach would have similar condition as that of Pakistan. Ambitious boys and aim for the title

The tournament is now moving into the second stage. Let's hope to see some great matches and all the best to all the coaches

Can cricket become a peace tool for Afghanistan

Sports is a very powerful tool. It has power to unite people across the divide. For so many years people have been seen uniting behind their sportsperson, be it the ancient time warriors when that was a sport or in modern time a India behind Sachin or France behind Zidane or many more.

The has been seen on various occasions. When the Iraqi Football team won the Asian championship people could be seen shouting "We love Iraq". They forgot that whether they were Shia or Sunni or were they Arab or Kurd. That helped rekindle the dwindling identity of Iraq and people could be proud of being related to it. Similarly whole of Palestine rallied behind their team when they won the Football league of Israel.

Sports can be very powerful tool in other direction too. It was behind this sports that two countries El Salvador and Nicaragua went to war with each other. This happened after a bitter football match and immediately a war popularly known as "Football War". So it leaves us without any doubt that sport has got extreme power over people

Cricket for Peace in Afghanistan

Afghanistan is a beautiful country. I never have been there but seeing various pictures on internet or posted by my friends from Afghanistan, I surely can say it is beautiful country. However the country has been bound by wars, strife for over 31 years now. The country consists of people of various ethnic groups like Pashtun, Tajik, Uzbek, Hazara, Baluch. The country has over years seen internal interference from various countries including Pakistan, Russia, USA, India, Iran, China, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan to name a few. The countries has got many dividing factors. Cricket definitely is the factor that can be the binding factor that the country needs.

Cricket was introduced to Afghans while living in the refugee camps in Pakistan during the Soviet Invasion. When the times became better they took the game back with them to Afghanistan. Cricket gained so much popularity that the Taliban regime which had banned all sports even Kite flying allowed cricket and even initiated the process of Afghanistan Team. The dream run of Afghanistan team begun when they started from Division 5 to reach for ODI Status and then qualify for the World Twenty20. This brought in even more support behind cricket to such that level that people who did not even understand game properly supported their team with full rigor.

When the new Ghazi Amanullah Khan Cricket Stadium at Jalalabad came up and the first match held the stadium was full in no time. So many people turned out that the financiers of the stadium decided to double it's capacity and immediately started it's construction.

 USA should realize the power of cricket in Afghanistan. USA should use it power to reach out to people and give them international opportunities. For this it should have a 3 step policy

Firstly it should take cricket to the deepest of parts and make it a very important part of the social fibre. There have been few stadiums coming up in Afghanistan but it should ensure they quickly come up in all the 30+ Provinces. Besides that grounds and equipment should be provided all across the country. This would ensure that cricket trickles down to the bottom and more solidly bonds in the national fibre

Obama thinking: Is he thinking a Peace Cricket Series between Afghanistan, India, Pakistan and USA?

Secondly USA should ensure that the national team gets more international exposure and training. USA should also wield it's influence on Australia, UK, India, Pakistan and taking this as top priority pressurize them on playing some short series against the Afghan's. This would give a good exposure to the team but most importantly something for Afghans to cheer behind. A victory against the team would bring cheer and make people rally behind Afghanistan . This could be seen when in Asian Games the Afghan's defeated Pakistan, the whole nation was celebrating. 

An Idea for the same can be a series in USA involving India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and USA. This surely will be a peace series with USA getting a chance of involving 2 very important stakeholder of Afghanistan India and Pakistan. Also this series will provide a chance to break ice between India and Pakistan and also a chance of taking USA Afghan rivalry onto the field and not through guns.

Celebrating Heroes. Such performances help the nation to rally behind there teams and get over dividing issues

Thirdly it should ensure that better results start to come. If cricket is able to provide Afghan's something to rally behind and cheer about more importantly even more proud of the Afghan identity before their clan this will be a big step towards taking it to peace The Afghan's are known to be sturdy people full of dedication to whatever they take up. It was their dedication that brought a super power USSR on to it's knees. Hence given more chances, it is beyond doubt that the Afghan's will make it to one of the best.

In the end I am not saying by playing cricket will bring peace, but cricket is the most important tool to rekindle the Afghan identity and along with that some focused effort can do the trick. The World should realize this and help Afghans on this cause. They owe it to them. I am a real fan of the Afghans and hope peace comes there soon.

Friday, 28 October 2011

10 Things that will happen if China takes Cricket

China is a country that every body in the world is talking these days. It is because of the economic progress of China or it's massive export to all corners of the world or be it as the massive creditor to USA. On the other hand Cricket is played in handful countries which only run the game in their favor almost never thinking long term and expanding the game. So what will happen if 2 such opposite things meet

Chinese Pacer Wang Lei

1. Cricket will become a Global Game (In real terms)
Presently cricket is played in a handful of countries that were a part of British empire. Cricket is lucky that the population of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh is huge and the game could put some number. With China in the fold, the 2 most populous nations and the 2 more vibrant economies of the world will be playing the game. This will bring huge notice to the game and perhaps people will wonder if cricket is the secret to get economies rolling and take the game

2. Chinaman will be banned
Taking the spirit of Team Spirit and Fair Play the ICC will immediately ban Chinamen in all its form to please it's one of the 2 real master (AKA as CCA and BCCI). Any spinner found to have the illegal action of Chinamen will run the risk of being banned for life.

3. Cheap cricket equipments
A new variety of USE and THROW cricket bat, pads, wickets etc will hit the market. Go for a outing, play and dispose of the equipment. Next time on the way buy one. Austria will be using anti dumping laws against China because some Chinese Gentlemen mistook Austria as Australia and exported 20 M use and throw kits there.

4. Cricket in Olympics
ICC will say no but IOC will be after them and unilaterally include the grand sport of cricket. They will not be able to ignore the fact that the game of India and China is not there and is rendering whole Olympic movement useless. Also adding this game they will be able to add roughly 40% humanity to it's viewership.

5. CPL
The BCCI will be under dilemma with Club V Country debate as players will be rebelling against the board to play in CPL. Sri Lanka, New Zealand will disband their teams for the bilateral tours and keep them just for the world cup's. They will be hailed as they would have allowed players to play in CPL in return for 10% match fee. 

6. Red ball is Disbanded
The  ball in red is not liked by CCA as it means the great communist red color in form of ball goes into mud, soil and it is considered as disgrace to communism. This after much debate like the DRS, the red ball was made optional and then finally completely disbanded

7. Cricket is the Buzz word
One is the second largest economy and growing at 10%, other is in top 6 and also growing at 9%. Is Cricket the reason. As Kung Fu for China and Yoga for India was the mystic thing, the new thing will be cricket and the real expansion of cricket will start

8. "No balls" will increase
Imagine Walsh balling to a Chinese player No Hu who is 5 feet tall. Rather than focussing on line and length the main focus will be on the bounce of the ball. Even a simple ball can become a no ball. The other boards will be really wanting to increase bouncer in over from 2 to 4 but due to threat of China not touring they will not be opposing. After all money matters

9. Cold war in Cricket
People will be reminded of olden times with a cold war in cricket. On one side would be CCA who will be partnered by PCB, BCB, SLC, ZC and other side we would have the Anglo Indian block lead by BCCI, ECB along with CA, NZC, CI and perhaps a non aligned block like NAM with CSA and WICB a part of it. The security council will have the big 4 with CCA, BCCI, ECB and CA and veto from one of them would mean that decision not possible. Will it help cricket to be expanded, I really don't know

10. "Ho Wus Dat" Situation
Chinese pacer Ho Wus Dat would severely resist people calling his name again and again (Howzat) and complain to CCA. Perhaps many such situations will keep coming and  many Ho Wus Dat words will have to be removed from Cricket Vocabulary.

Personally all jokes aside I really want China to come in the game. It will do the game sea of good and really good for the Associate countries. Let's hope that by 2015 we see a strong Chinese team coming up

This article has been written all in humor and if I unintentionally end up hurting some feeling I apologize for the same :).

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Celtic League: A way to expand cricket in Europe?

In recent years we have seen some news in European Cricket that can shape the future of cricket in the continent. First is the resurgence of Irish cricket and their dramatic chase against England in world cup. Along with that the game has made right noises in Netherlands where the performance in world cup has helped cricket to stop it's downfall, while the Scots have been doing really good. Though they failed to make it to the world cup, but then after that made to finals of Intercontinental cup, teams performing very well in matches against Neth, Ire and other ODI and the junior team making it to the World Cup the game surely is on a roll

Besides that there have been lots of talks in Welsh Parliament about a separate Welsh team under the Gambit of ECB which even though is a English and Wales team, but conveniently remove Wales. Who knows soon over time like the Scots who went independent may soon happen for Welsh too.

England winning Ashes back to back also is coming at a right time bringing attention for cricket across Europe.

Celtic League is the place Cricket Should look upto

However the most encouraging news has been initial talks between Scotland and Irish cricket boards over the formation of a Celtic League. This idea is not a new one. We have recently seen a very successful East African Trophy and Premier League involving 4 teams from Kenya and 2 from Uganda. The tournament which started without sponsors or broadcaster before the end of tournament had both. The rebellious players who on seeing the success of the tournament apologized and are planning to come back. But where did the idea of Celtic League or East African tournament come? Both the Celtic League and East African tournaments came from a game that cricket should learn a lot of things from- Rugby

The Celtic league is already a very successful tournament that involves teams from Ireland, Scotland, Wales & Italy. This tournament which started in 2001 has picked up popularity over time and become the only first class tournament of these nations. It has also helped to have the first professional teams in Ireland, Scotland and Wales. There have been some downsides where some professional clubs could not balance the sheets and hence were dissolved. The mistakes of the tournament can studied and ensured that they are not repeated

Cricket should definitely pick this brilliant experience and go for a similar league not just for Ireland and Scotland but even go further and have more nations as a part of it. Presently England with its 18 counties is the only place where professional Cricket is possible in Europe. European laws make that easy for these team to allow their players in county cricket but that has its risk of losing players to England. As an alternative professional set up to come to levels of county cricket is not possible if Ireland or Scotland go alone or together but lies in the fact that Wales, Netherlands and Denmark are brought into the fold

Professional set up depends on 2 major factors:- 1. The Economy of the countries i.e GDP of the countries, 2. The level of Interest- Are people willing to come to watch the game. The number of teams from each country should be based on both these factors. The fact can be seen that in Celtic League(Rugby), with a economy of 226 B$ Ireland had 4 teams while Wales with a GDP of 73 B$ had 5 teams and what happened? Even though Rugby would be slightly more popular in Wales than Ireland but soon the clubs started failing as they could not find money to sustain.

Going by the present Populations, Interest Levels and GDP the best format would be 4 teams from Ireland , 3 teams from Scotland, 2 from Wales, 2 from Netherlands and 1 from Denmark. This set up would help provide a much bigger population and economical base to sustain the game both in quality and monetary terms.This will help provide an alternate to County with more opportunities for domestic players.

The 12 teams can be as follows
Ireland:- Similar structure as Rugby Union: Ulster (Belfast), Munster (Cork), Leinster (Dublin) & Connacht (Galway)
Scotland:- The recently started 3 team tournament is the perfect way to go ahead: North (Aberdeen), West (Glasgow / Ayr), East (Edinburg)
Wales:- Presently only 1 county takes part in County championships. To increase participation it should be increased to 2 teams:Cardiff & Swansea (Glamorgan)
Netherlands:- The recently started North vs South competition is a perfect platform to go Celtic: North (Amstelveen) & South(Rotterdam)
Denmark:- Cricket is a very lower interest level, hence the whole national team should take part to ensure a competitive tournament. The capital Copenhagen is a perfect place.

The tournament may not be initially having the resources to go completely professional so can start as semi professional. Also since most of the places have stadiums Home and Away would be the best format. Any further expansion is very much possible in Netherlands and Denmark if it helps raise the profile of game in the country. Finally like Rugby the tournament should be run by a company with stakes of all the boards and an independent director. If cricket goes professional in these countries then it can pave the way for Euro Cup and further raise the profile of game.

Lets  hope the first step of Celtic Cup containing 6 teams of Scotland and Ireland goes ahead becomes a success like East African tournaments. I surely will be watching this space

Saturday, 22 October 2011

SAARC Twenty20 Schedule

As we all know SAARC TwentyT20 cricket tournament is being held in Maldives from October 31 to November 7. All the 8 members of SAARC are supposed to be participating in the tournament.

BCCI due to other commitments was not able to send it's U-25 teams as the senior team, U-19 team and A team will be busy, besides domestic tournament going.  As the tournament is being held on the sidelines of the SAARC summit, Maldives government wanted all the team to take part in it, hence  BCCI will be represented by Karnataka Institute of Cricket.

Similar problem are also there for Bangladesh who have their both national and A teams busy, hence will be represented by a representative team to be declared soon.

We will soon be seeing some action like Ind V Pak rivalry, Afghanistan proving a point against Bangladesh, Nepal getting good exposure against likes of India, Sri Lanka & Pakistan

Group A
Bangladesh Representative Side (Bangladesh)

Group B
KIC (India)
Sri Lanka

Tentative Schedule
31 Oct
Maldives vs Bhutan
Sri Lanka vs Nepal
1 Nov
Afghanistan vs BRS (Bangladesh)
KIC(India) vs Pakistan
2 Nov
Sri Lanka vs KIC(India)
Maldives vs Afghanistan
3 Nov
Nepal vs Pakistan
Bhutan vs BRS (Bangladesh)
4 Nov
Maldives vs BRS (Bangladesh)
Sri Lanka vs Pakistan
5 Nov
Bhutan vs Afghanistan
Nepal vs KIC(India)
6 Nov
1st SF:-Group 1 winners vs Group 2 Runners-up
2nd SF:-Group 2 winners vs Group 1 Runners-up
7 Nov

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Scatchy details on SAARC U-25 Tournament Groups and Schedule

Presently the details of the groups though have not been declared and we are still waiting for them but there are few details that can be shared

SAARC Twenty20 Cup, 2011


Schedule:- 31st Oct to 7 Nov. Teams arrive on 29th Oct and leave on 8th Oct.

Number of teams:- 8, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives(Hosts), Nepal, Pakistan & Sri Lanka U-25 teams

Wicket:- Synthetic wicket (Astro turf).

Groups:- 2 Groups of 4 teams(Group A & Group B) each based on Ranking (Ranking yet to be declared and awaited)
2 Semi Finals:- Winner A Vs Runner Up B, Winner B Vs Runner Up A

3 teams have declared their squad
Afghanistan:- Hamid Hassan, Mohammad Nabi(captain), M. Shahzad, Mirwais Ashraf, Gulbadin Naib, Samiullah Shinwari, Dawlat Zadran, Javed Ahmadi, Asghar Stanikzai, Nasir Jamal, Najibullah Zadran, Amir Mangal, Fazel Zazai and Nawab Khan (TENTATIVE AS PER

Bhutan:- Jigme Singye, Kencho Norbu, Susil Sharma Luitel, Thinley Tenzin, Thinley Jamtsho, Sonam Darjey, Nar Bahadur Burathoki Mongar, Sisir Raj Gurung, Nima Gurung, Tandin Wangchuk, Tandin Wangchuk, Manoj Adhikari, Sonam Tobgay, Tashi Yoedzer Tshering, Damber Singh Gurung (Coach), Sonam (Manager)

Nepal:- Paras Khadka (Captain) and Gyanendra Malla (Vice Captain), Sarad Veskwarker, Mahesh Chettri, Anil Mandal, Amrit Bhattarai, Rahul BK, Pradeep Airee, Prithu Baskota, Naresh Budhayer, Binod Bhandari, Krishna Karki, Bhuwan Karki and Avinash Karna.

Pakistan:-     Nasir Jamshaid, Awais Zia, Umer Amin (cap), Rameez Aziz, Zain Abbass, Shazeb Hassan, Jamal Anwar, Raza Hasan, Muhammad Tallha, Anwar Ali, Mohamed Rameez, Asad Ali, Usman Qadir, Bismillah Khan. Officials: Sabih Azhar (Coach/Manager), Dr. Riaz Ahmed (Physio), Yasir malik (Trainer)

We are awaiting for more details of the tournament. As soon as we get them we would post them for you.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Interview with Nigerian Pace Sensation: Akolade Saheed O

Hello Prince welcome to Associate and Affiliate Cricket. As we always start the Interview we would start with the question like always

For the interest of Wider world, I would like to ask you what is the status of cricket in your country?
The Status of cricket in Nigeria is not bad because Nigeria is an associate member of ICC and Cricket is
the first sport played in Nigeria and Nigeria cricket Federation is trying to develop the game all over
Nigeria but it's not easy for them because the game is not popular in the Country, People focus on
football a lot.

Akolade bowling. The picture is testimony to pace he can deliver

What is required for taking cricket to next level in your country?
We need the Nigeria Government to support the Nigeria Cricket Federation and we need sponsors to help NCF with development program and help they create tournament and league.We lack cricket educational
program for coaches, Umpires and all the officials. We lack good cricket pitches. 
What are the challenges in playing for an Associate Nation?
The matches we play at the ICC World Cricket League are good but we don't get to rest effort to play good
cricket because sometimes we land in a country and we have to play 2 games straight away.. I am happy
playing the tournaments but this are some challenges we face sometimes.

What should ICC do to make the game global in true sense?
ICC are doing a very great job in developing the game globally but if they can do 50% more of what they
are currently doing, i believe there will be more progress in associate cricket.

How does it feel to be a star in your country at such a young age?
I feel very happy and proud but I am still working very hard because I know one day i will lead the
country to glory. I have a lot of cricket currently coming my way.. Playing the 2011/2012 cricket season
in the CCC Cricket League in Lagos, Nigeria and 2012 cricket season to play in England.. I want to be a
professional Cricketer one day.

What are the steps that need to be taken to make cricket self sufficient financially in Nigeria?
Nigeria Government assisting with fund yearly just like ICC, Getting cooperate Sponsors and Nigeria
Cricket Federation need to find something that will generate funds for them.

Do you feel you can match the pace of  legends of West Indies or Shoaib Akhtar?
Yes.. Currently i am still young and i am bowling very quick now.. Coaches and Umpires at the World Cricket League 6 told me that i can really be very quick one day like Dale Steyn and others.
I believe i can bowl around the 160 Kph mark one day
Can Cricket pick up as a game in Nigeria
Yes..We development program are in place... People Love cricket here in Nigeria 

What else would you like to share?
Watch Out for Saheed Akolade in some years time
I have trails next year in a county in England and i am getting ready for it.I am currently 18 years now
Why do you want to play in England
cricket in Nigeria is not pro.I rather play in England and improve my cricket with top coaches and facilities
and help Nigeria in international tournaments

If cricket turns Pro in Nigeria so will you be willing to play for Nigeria
Thanks Saheed for taking out time. We are sure that you will be the next sensation from Associate World to rock the Cricket World. A very best from our side. 

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

SAARC U-25 Cricket Tourney: More similar tournaments needed

The government of Maldives is inaugurating its first cricket stadium in a brilliant way. Along with the SAARC conference it is organizing the first SAARC U-25 Cricket tournament in which all the 8 members will be participating. Initially as part of SAARC games, cricket was included but one or the other team like India or minor countries like Bhutan did not send teams.

Cricket in South Asia is really popular, a religion. It is infact the place which cricket is popular that no other games stands a chance to come near it. India, Pakistan, SL and Bangladesh are well known cricket crazy nations but very few know that it is also the most popular game in Nepal, Afghanistan and Bhutan, and surprisingly the hosts are the only nation where cricket in no 2 in South Asia.

This tournament after a long time will give youngsters from Nepal, Afghanistan rightful experience against big boys of South Asia. It also gives them a chance to showcase their teams and perhaps defeat the traditional teams and give them the needful attention. Who knows we will see the likes of Mehboob Alam or Hamid Hassan blowing away wickets of Pakistani's or Indians or Paras Khadka or Mohammad Nabi steadying the innings and taking their teams home

Will Paras Khadka take Nepal home like so many times he has done before

The tournament has the started at the place where it should but perhaps a little late. Lets go by the saying "Better Late than Never". Similar to this tournament, ICC can take the help of government to start similar tournament across the globe where the youngster of lesser and bigger tournament meet. The lesser teams play very less cricket and less cricket means less development of teams. It is a vicious cycle and with ICC so much in control of money minded boards of 10 Test Nations, government support is definitely break the cycle

Can we see a repeat of Asian Games
Besides South Asia, perhaps UK Government can fund a similar tournament for all the Home Nations and we see a annual tournament between teams from England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, N Ireland, Jersey, Guernsey and Isle of Man. Cricket is decently popular in all the nations and England can send England Lions or a junior team, but will be worth the experience for the other nations and surely will bring attention in many nations like a Ireland V Wales game.

The other place can be South East Asia with Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Hong Kong, China, Indonesia, Philippines, South Korea, Myanmar and Brunei can join in for the tournament. Many government in the area can support such move. The move to make Cricket a demo sport in South East Asian games is perhaps a first baby step in such direction. Also Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Hong Kong have been involved in a tournament before. Also like Copa America SEA can invite any of the Test nation or their junior team as per the availability

East Africa has been a place where such a annual tournament took place. It is also a place that has got many decent teams in form of Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. These 3 nations along with Zambia, Rwanda, Burundi and perhaps Zimbabwe, Namibia can join the tournament along with South Africa can take part.

The South America has already started a continental tournament. ICC needs to work in these nations and develop cricket in these nations. Argentina, Brazil, Chile can be great potential nations can start the tournament along with inviting Suriname and Guyana for a interesting tournament.

All these tournaments appear great on paper but besides South Asia there is not much motivation for government to go for such tournament. The biggest motivation and driver can be OLYMPICS.  If ICC has to break the shackles of BCCI, then it needs to get cricket at any cost into Olympics and T20 is the perfect way to do it. Doing that it will start to get government support and many such tournaments will become a reality.

Cricket is at a make or break stage. Lets us see in which direction it goes, meanwhile best of luck to SAARC U-25 tournament and may it become an annual affair.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Interview:- Ugandan Captain & Local Star Davis. A. Karashani

I welcome captain of one of the most promising team of Africa. Presently winner of Africa Twenty20 Championship and it's club are leading in East African Premier League and East African Trophy. The country we are talking about is Uganda and it vibrant captain Davis.

Davis thanks for the time
 Thanks for the opportunity

Ugandan Captain: Davis playing a shot
For the interest of Wider world, I would like to ask you what is the status of cricket in your country?

Well first and foremost cricket in Uganda plays second fiddle to soccer and maybe athletics but otherwise game is only going one way n that is being played a lot more not just in Kampala but in over 12 other districts and has recently picked up media recognition and national attention after recently winning the Africa T20 championship on home soil.
What is required for taking cricket to next level in your country?Cricket in Uganda is undergoing various re-structural developments right from the administrators, age group cricket to national men and women teams.
Awareness is being passed onto administrators about the requirements needed to transform a basic national team player into a consistent match winner in national colors down to local cricket, association has to find a way of keeping players interested in the game and playing for the nation with pride, to avoid any other exodus of more players to other nations, efficient player followup programs to continue regular quality player availability,sending players to better facilitated ODI playing nations for further detailed training are major factors that could make a difference in seeing Uganda in a World cup sooner than later.

What are the challenges in playing for a Associate Nation?
Lack of proper training facilities, quality player turnover and lack of continued frequent playing exposure are the major challenges. Because cricket plays second fiddle to other sports in Uganda, sponsorship has been hard to come by that could have eased up on solving the above challenges. That said steps like playing in the E.A Premier League and Cup are expected to better players skills and abilities and expected to make a huge difference.

What should ICC do to make the game global in true sense?First and foremost, make a World Cup a WORLD CUP and not a 10 nation mini series. The difference Uganda's participation in previous U-19 World cups made down here was soooooo huge that the game had started taking an unexpected sudden rise in public awareness and created a huge urge in so many youngsters from various sports to take participation in cricket very seriously as this game had started being looked at as a revenue to brand Uganda as the next big cricketing nation in Africa so just imagine if either the National men or women's teams made it to the global event. Also think the present WCL format is so wide due to the small number of teams per division making the wait between tournaments too huge to make a big difference. I think of 10 teams per div with fewer divisions with shorter waiting time between divisions.

How does it feel to be a star in your country at such a young age?Hmmmm, wouldn't really regard at as stardom but rather public service with an immense opportunity to serve our country with pride with a burning desire to make a difference and leave a lasting mark. Otherwise great being looked at as a role model to youngsters but comes with the responsibility of making a remarkable memorable difference.

what are the steps that need to be taken to make cricket self sufficient financially in  Uganda?
Uganda cricket needs to urgently find a sponsor for national teams, better the facilities such as somehow getting flood lights hand in hand with a working marketing strategy to tap into all potential sponsors and fans to attract fans to cricket matches as a form of entertainment at a decent entrance fee.

We thank Davis for taking out time and hope Uganda qualifies for the World Twenty20 in 2012 and he leads his side Nile Knights to title's of East Africa Cup and Premier League. All the very best from Associate and Affiliate world cricket

Monday, 10 October 2011

Interview: Nigerian Star and Captain, Endurance Ofem

Today we have with us the Nigerian Star and Captain, Endurance Ofem. We must thank him for taking out time and Associate and Affiliate Cricket World Welcomes him

Endurance Ofem in action

For the interest of Wider world, I would like to ask you what is the status of cricket in your country?
Cricket in nigeria is a growing sports that is played in various states of the country. Most of the cricket played in the country centers around the south western states like Lagos, ogun, oyo, and a few others like EDO, delta, enugu, imo, anambra, kaduna, Kebbi, and abuja.
Its most at club level with various leagues. You can follow them @ or

What is required for taking cricket to next level in your country?
I think the administrative fronts structures are been set up but we require a decent financial base to set up indoor facilities and turf like playing surfaces backed with constant tours against decent opponents. Some level of professionalism is required and the board and government have to look towards this direction.

What are the challenges in playing for a Associate Nation?
The lack of facilities and funding has been the major challenges for us as an associate nation. The fact that you can't play above your league because of the level of cricket and the amount of funding.

What should ICC do to make the game global in true sense?
Expand the world cup and readjust the qualifying process. It needs to be truely global. Introduce the game to commonwealth and the olympics games.

How does it feel to be a star in your country at such a young age?
well I feel privilege and honored to be representing my country. I call it giving back mostly when you get little wearing the green colours. That am proud of. This have always been my dreams but even at a much higher level.

What are the steps that need to be taken to make cricket self sufficient financially in Nigeria?
Nigeria's cricket needs a solid financial base with a strong club structures. The government needs to invest in the federation understanding the icc development and funding process. on field performance is number 1 priority and player development is key to deliver this which should later turn into returns. Professionalism must be introduce to expand the interest base of growing cricketers who should see a reason to want to play the game, then the corporate world and market will come in. But they are required combine factors.

Thank you Endurance for taking out time. We wish Nigeria all the best for future, and we hope that in future like football Nigeria becomes a major cricketing nation. 

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Interview: Nepali Super Star - Paras Khadka

I must thank Nepal Captain and a super star in Nepal to take out time and give an Interview

Paras Khadka
Hello Paras Welcome to Associate and Affiliate World Cricket. I would start with the question:-
What is required for taking cricket to next level in your country?
For cricket to reach to the next level we need to have a proper administrative functioning unit and revise our domestic structure.Players should be looked after and be given that exposure to better training at nearby close test playing nations like India.

What are the challenges in playing for a Associate Nation?

Challenges as in we have very few tournaments and they are spaced too far and wide. One must closely play triangular n bilateral series like the test playing nations do. That way players will get better opportunity to showcase their talent regularly.

What are the steps that need to be taken to make cricket self sufficient financially in Nepal?
For cricket to get the financial support we must have a good proper administrative cricketing body like I mentioned. Once that comes into operation sponsorships and other monetary matters should be taken care of with that functioning body. Other than that the government of NEPAL should prioritize cricket with the view that this sport has a better chance of succeeding at the highest level. Corporate institutions will come into action once they c the potential for success. 

What should ICC do to make the game global in true sense?

ICC must introduce doors for more and more countries to be able to contact and play against the top test playing nations like in football more countries should be given the chance to participate in the cricket World Cup. Although the level might be totally different the associate nations and affiliate nations will only improve once they come to knw about their shortcomings and weaknesses

How does it feel to be a star in your country at such a young age?

I have been blessed wit the fact that people in my country follow and love cricket so much..that way it has helped me carve out a name for myself but then cricket wise until and unless we get an ODI status for starters nothing will be valued.

I must thank Paras for taking out valuable time for this interview. Not only is he a local star but a very modest and down to earth person. 
I wish him and Nepal all the best of ACC Twenty20 and WCL Division 4 tournament and hope to see Nepal in Both T20 and ODI World Cups.

Chapter 7: EAP Div 1(T20) Championship, 2011, World Twenty20 Qualifier

Samoa who had an impressive Division 2 and have also qualified for World Cricket League Div 8 now faced their biggest test. They were pitted against the top 4 teams of the division who have extensive experience of playing tournaments such as World Cricket League, Pacific Games and sometimes again regional teams of Test nations.

The tournament had got 5 nations, regional powerhouses PNG, upcoming country Vanuatu, old timers Fiji, Japan and Samoa. PNG were expected to have a roller coaster ride and they did not disappoint finish in style. Not only did they win all the 4 matches but won all 4 convincingly. While the newcomers Samoa performed very well in the first tournament they played. They won the first match of tournament shocking Fiji and also defeated Japan. Japan performed badly loosing all the matches.

The final table was as follows

Team Mat W L T N/R Pts NRR
 Papua New Guinea 4 4 0 0 0 8 +3.813
 Fiji 4 2 2 0 0 4 +0.793
 Vanuatu 4 2 2 0 0 4 –0.338
 Samoa 4 2 2 0 0 4 –0.904
 Japan 4 0 4 0 0 0 –3.566

PNG qualifies for 2012 World Twenty20 Qualifiers

Chapter 6: Africa Div 2 (T20) Championship, World Twenty20 Qualifier

The decision by ICC to revert back the 2012 ICC World Twenty20 from 16 nation to a 12 nation tournament in lieu of making 2015 WC a 14 nation affair came as a shock. On one side they talk to using T20 a driver to expand cricket and then suddenly mid way they decided to go back on their words just because many corrupt Test cricket board that depend on handout from ICC like Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Zimbabwe or West Indies could have the money. This decision really made me think so stop writing on World Twenty20. But then over time I write for the Associate and would do my bit to get some coverage for them. Though now just 2 chapters are left, I would finish all chapters as fast and catch up with the present.

The African Div 2 was supposed to be a 10 nation tournament with teams divided into 2 pools of 5 and each team playing all the opposite pool teams. Hence each team was supposed to play 5 matches and 25 matches in Total and all 10 teams in 1 pool. It was a complicated system. Then Zambia bound by corruption scandal of money embezzlement was suspended by ICC. This reduced the tournament to 9 nation and above complicated system could not be applicable. A simple system of 9 teams one pool came into effect.

The 9 teams in the tournament were Botswana, Ghana, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Swaziland & Tanzania. There were 2 slots with Nigeria, Tanzania and Botswana as the favorite team. The tournament were one of the most interesting one with many upsets happening. The greatest dark horses of the tournament were Ghana who not only came second and qualified with 6 victories out of 8 but on course defeated the 2 tournament favorites Tanzania and Botswana. They were defeated by tournament winners and another dark horses of tournament Sierra Leone. Peter Kirtsen showed why he is one of the best coaches who led the war ravaged country on a brilliant performance with 5 wins out of 8. They on course defeated the qualifiers Ghana along with tournament favorites Tanzania. They had a performance and the potential showed they have the potential to go ahead. Tanzania and Botswana did not live up to expectations with losses to Nigeria, Ghana and Sierra Leone.

The tournament showed that if these teams are given more matches then we have an improved performances. In the end Nigeria with just 1 loss to Botswana along with Ghana qualified for Division 1. This tournament was the most interesting one

Team Played Points
 Nigeria 8 14
 Ghana 8 12
 Botswana 8 12
 Tanzania 8 10
 Sierra Leone 8 10
 Swaziland 8 6
 Mozambique 8 4
 Malawi 8 2
 Rwanda 8 2

Nigeria and Ghana qualify for Africa FDiv 1 and Rwanda goes back to Div 3.

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Can Nepal make it to the Best in the World

Recently when a U-19 team played the World Cup Qualifier the whole nation was watching the news,  surfing the net to keep updated with the scores. The newspapers carried daily reports. The Expat community in Ireland (The Hosts) welcomed the team, went to ground to support them. 2009, when the National team played a tournament as the host, the whole country was talking about it. Every match the hosts played had 10000 people turning out to watch the match and support their team.

This is a not a Test Nations, neither is this India or Pakistan, the well known cricket crazy nations. Nestled in the Himalayas, the Land of Gorkhas and Mt Everest, this is a nation few would suspect to be cricket crazy- Nepal.

Nepal winning the U-17 Tournament in 2009 defeating Malaysia. The whole nation was celebrating.

The passion of game can be seen from the fact that when recently the Indian or SL U-19 were playing there was very minor coverage for it in India or SL, but here in Nepal, even if the Junior team also plays, it was the most talked about things in Nepal. People were very happy this time when the team reached the World Cup. At Junior level the team has great performances in the World Cup. They have credit of defeating 4 test team:- Pakistan, South Africa, New Zealand and Bangladesh

Paras Khadka, Nepal Captain  is a local star who made it from Junior Team to the Senior Team. Experts are impressed with his skills and feel that he can make it into at Test Team if he was born in one

The game was introduced in the country by Rana rulers who over years used to go and study in England or India. The game was elitist for many years until the advent of satellite TV in 2000's. It brought with it the Indian channels. These channels with it brought TV Soaps, Bollywood and most importantly Cricket. Also over years many people worked in India. When they came back they also brought in the game and made people in Nepal interested in the game. The game picked up. The hosting of ACC tournaments from 1998 onwards also helped in the popularity of games.

However despite this passion the senior team has not been able to replicate neither the success of Junior teams or the passion of the nations. The team has a record of choking at all stages of the game. The most critical of that was when chasing a  117 were bundled out for mere 108 runs, costing them a spot and stopped them from advancing to Division 3 and additional funding that they could have received if they ultimately reached Div 2. Also over years the team choked in the Intercontinental Cup, 2008 Div 5, when they won all the league matches but lost in Semi Final this loosing a chance to be in Div 4. There can be various other instances that can be counted.
Bardan Chalise: A real star at U-19 level but no clear scope of cricket as a career prompted his decision to immigrate to USA

So why has the senior team not been able to do well. What can be done to improve it's performance. There are several reasons.

1. The Administration
Talk to a Nepali and this will be the reason given. The Administration is known to be corrupt, working on favoritism. Since 2004 there has been a talk of an international stadium but it is now 2011 but still there has been no sign of it despite ACC and Nepali government offering assistance at various stages.
The CAN is not a professional body with all members on honorary roles without being responsible to anyone. It has elections but the district associations have no role but just few in Kathmandu participating in election
What is really required is a professional set up with a paid CEO who is responsible for the performance. This would also mean that CEO will have to work towards bringing sponsorships, central contracts and transition of junior players to senior level.

2. Central Contracts
The Nepal Team despite of being stars at their place are still amateurs at the sports. Whenever the team plays they get a daily allowance rather than being contracted. Even though finances are a issue still CAN can start with a semi professional set up like that of Netherlands or Scotland and then slowly move towards central contracts. Central contracts would mean that players can focus more on the game without worrying about anything else. Central contracts would also mean that the excellent talent at Junior level can be retained and be worked upon the future.
The central contracts would not be that difficult to offer. CAN can muster such resources. With a per capita of 562$ (44000 Nep Rupees), an average central contract worth 22000 Nep Rupees/Month would be a good sum for a average Nepali. This with 30 players & 12 month transforms to 80 Lakh Nepali Rupees. An ACC & ICC annual support of 80 Lakh Nepali Rupees, managed with Private sponsorship and government support make this number not very difficult. It all boils down to management by CAN

3. Retaining the Junior Talent
The performance of the Junior team has been excellent. They have qualified for all world cup since 2000 except the 2010 WC. (They have again qualified for 2012). They have honors of defeating Pakistan, South Africa, New Zealand and Bangladesh at U-19 level. They have been plate runners up 2 times. So there is no doubt there is talent but many like brilliant Bardan Chalise chose not to pursue cricket as career due to so many uncertainties and rather go to USA.
For the junior players certain talent can be identified and can be given central contracts or scholarships. This will remove uncertainties and help Nepal retain the brilliant talent and not compromise. Also the juniors would need some infrastructure to help them train and improve further to come on international level.

4. Local Infrastructure
Imagine Manchester United without its stadium. Half its support will be gone. Similarly to have a Nepali spirit in game, a stadium and infrastructure the team can call its own is very essential. Presently imagine a player wanting to practice would have to go to Tribhuvan University and practice and university may easily refuse. Various countries have realized this. Afghanistan, Myanmar, China, Ireland, Netherlands, Canada, and many more have got stadiums that they can call their own.
The stadium can also be used to get matches of International team for eg India V Pakistan. This match would draw loads of tourism in the country and also help CAN in additional funding. Similar to Skating Club in Canada or Sharjah, CAN can start a annual or two yearly tournaments. Not only will it bring exposure for the home nations, but also international attention and money. Nepal is a beautiful country and this can be the way to bring back the tourists scared away by Maoists.

5. Institutional Support
The strength of Pakistan, India or Sri Lanka has been government institutions supporting sports. Like APF has got a team and even has offered central contracts, a similar effort can be taken and ensured that the regional tournament can be Institution based. Pakistan has got teams like Habib Bank or India has Railways or Indian Airlines in Hockey. This is required because outside Kathmandu, getting private sponsorships or contracts becomes difficult. Hence these institution step in and support the teams by either absorbing players as their employees or running a club and supporting by regional contracts. Besides APF, companies like Nepal Airlines or Himalayan Bank can have their teams. This ensures a motivation to many good sports man to really take sports as a career.

6. Playing more tournaments
Nepal team has been known to choke because of less exposure they get. They usually play when there is either a ACC tournament or a ICC tournament. After playing the ICC WCL Div 4 and ACC Trophy Elite in 2010, Nepal has not played cricket in 2011. They will play in 2011 Dec in the ACC Twenty20 almost after 14 months. Such long periods without play players cannot be really blamed.
Having closed camps 2 months before the tournament and a 2 week domestic tournament will not help at all. Nepal can use this time to invite teams like Ireland, Bangladesh or Afghanistan and help refine their play or like Kenya and Tanzania do, invite the Ranji teams to play. This will give them an exposure that will help remove the tag of Chokers

7. Look West:India
During the nascency stages of Bangladesh, the Bangla board approached BCCI and had Bangladesh team play in domestic tournament for 2 years. This helps the team to get good enough exposure
Similarly it is not BCCI but CAN which has to approach BCCI and help Nepal be a part of Ranji Trophy. With 26 teams in Ranji, BCCI will never mind making it 27. A local Nepali ground can also be used to host some of the games. This is a key thing. Interacting with various players in India will definitely give some handy tips to Nepali players. Also India is the cheapest option Nepal has and will give the best exposure.

Nepal presently are in Div 4 of World Cricket League. To reach 2015 WC the path would be
2012 Div 4:- Come in top 2. Present teams USA, Denmark, Nepal, Tanzania and 2 from Div 5
2012 Div 3:- Again finish in Top 2. Present teams Uganda, Bermuda, Oman, Italy and Top from Div 4
2013 WC Qualifiers:- Again finish in Top 2. Present teams any 6 out of Ire, Can, Neth, Scot, Ken, Afg, UAE & Nam + PNG, HK + Top 2 from Div 3

Lets hope some of these actions take place and Nepal make it into the top stage. There has been a long time with the passion of Nepali people still not rewarded. Best of luck.

Sunday, 2 October 2011

West Indies: Will the legacy be over?

Recently when during Champions League when Trinidad & Tobago captain was asked whether in future T&T could play as a separate team he replied by saying he could see it happening it soon. Soon there were so many articles supporting the move in so many Caribbean Newspapers. These voices were the echo of same demand raised many times specially in the bigger nations of Jamaica and T&

West Indies is a combination of 10 Independent Nations, 3 British Dependencies and 2 Overseas Territories.

Independent nations
  •  Antigua and Barbuda
  •  Barbados
  •  Dominica
  •  Grenada
  •  Guyana
  •  Jamaica
  •  Saint Kitts and Nevis
  •  Saint Lucia
  •  Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
  •  Trinidad and Tobago
British dependencies
  •  Anguilla
  •  Montserrat
  •  British Virgin Islands
Other overseas dependencies
  •  U.S. Virgin Islands
  •  Sint Maarten
 A combined team has been playing since 1926 when they got test status or rather unofficially from around 1900. They were a power house during the 1970-80's when they represented the power of Black Man standing up against the White Man. Representing Windies was an honor and they produced some of the greatest cricketers ever like Kalicharan, ViV Richards, Clive Lyoyd and so many more. They were a pace and batting powerhouse and defeating West Indies in West Indies was considered as the pinnacle of cricket.

Over time with globalistation coming in had 2 effects. Firstly it brought in many more sports which started taking away the youngsters into games like Basketball, Football. Secondly with more people migrating to US or Europe, cricket was no longer taken as a game of White against Black. This meant the West Indian cap wasn't any longer lucrative. With T&T Football team then Jamaican Football team reaching the world cup then Jamaica rising in athletics, representing the nation was a really proud effect

This also had an effect on the West Indian team. The performance of team went from bad to worse. Players could be seen more dedicated to playing for T&T, Jamaica or Barbados rather than for West Indies. With champions league and T&T reaching the finals in 2009, the pride of national cap was even further raised. The dedication of players towards national cap is much higher than Windies cap which is further compunded by regular disputes between WICB and WIPA. Also allegations of regionalism in WICB has added to this woes

Now the question arises what will happen if the West Indies break up. Lets look up at the constituent nations of Windies

SnoCountryPopulationTeamGDP (M)
2Trinidad & Tobago1300000Trinidad & Tobago21779
5Saint Lucia173765Windward985
6Saint Vincent and the Grenadines120000Windward640
8US Virgin Islands108448Leeward1577
9Antigua & Barbuda85632Leeward1106
10Saint Martin74852Leeward749
12Saint Kitts and Nevis42696Leeward469
13British Virgin Islands27000Leeward1229

The total population of West Indies is around 6 Million. Out of these Jamaica, T&T  have significant populations to make them significant and sustainable sporting powers. Passion alone cannot make great sporting teams. A population base is required to ensure constant supply of talent. Fiji, Samoa and Tonga are crazy Rugby Union nations, and their teams are good, but never strong enough to be amongst the best teams in the world. This can be seen across all the team sports.

If the West Indies break up, then perhaps Jamaica and T&T will be strong enough to rise to Test Status and Guyana and Barbados can be strong enough to be top team in Tier 2. The rest of the nations will not be able to have their own national teams. Either they break on the Regional Level teams of Windward and Leeward Islands or perhaps rest of the 11 nations combine to form and continue the legacy of West Indies, though much weakened.

The International cricket would also perhaps have to realign itself. A multi Tier system most likely a 3 Tier System would be most apt in the present circumstances.

Tier 1:- Aus, Eng, Ind, Pak, SL, NZ, SA, Jam, T&T, BD, Zim & Ire
Tier 2:- Afg, Can, Neth, WI (Rest of Nations), Barb, Guy, Ken, Scot, Wales, Nam, UAE
Tier 3:- Nep, USA, Ber, Uga, PNG, HK, Den, Oman, Italy, Malay, Tanz & Singapore

Every 4 years 2 teams should be promoted and relegated. The FTP should be formed in the same tier's however if a team wants to play against team of any other tier as per public demand, it should be left open. The ICC should be made more democratic with Tier 1 having 10 Votes, Tier 2 with 4 votes each, Tier 3 with 2 votes and rest of the 74 teams with 1 vote each. This would means that stronger team with the money have enough power to influence the game but simply cannot force decisions which are selfish  for the Top Nations.

I see Windies breaking in next 5 years and hope that will force the ICC to restructuring and a more democratic structure.