Wednesday, 12 February 2014

The changing order of world cricket

When I entered into 2014 Cricket I had great hopes for future of cricket. I had hoped that we will see the game open up and embrace the modern world ways. As I entered the year of hope, the first month was not the one I wanted and is all set to shake the world cricket order in multiple ways. The shake up is at virtually at all the levels.
The restructure by Big 3 has changed the game forever

ICC Restructure
Firstly was the proposed ICC restructure norms which have now been passed in a little bit watered down form. This virtually has surrendered the control of cricket to the so called Big 3- BCCI, ECB and CA. These 3 nations now form the permanent members of the 5 member committee which controls every aspect of the game. Only glimmer of hope is that this 5 member executive council still reports to the ICC Board which consists of all full members.

The restructure also means that the Big 3 now get major funding with BCCI getting the major share. The Associates on their part are all certain to lose funding except for the top 6 which are now supposed to get half the funding the associates get. This means that in the 105 members the top 16 might take most of it and rest of the 90 odd members will have even lesser share when infact they need the most. The only silver lining here would be that in absolute terms we might not see a drop in funding for any member as ICC revenues are set to increase from present 1.5 B$ to 2.5 B$ for a next period of 2015-2023. The bad news is that instead of everybody getting the 66% increase most members will stay at similar levels or at the best a very small increase while the Big 3 who least need the money (As they have many other sources) taking most part of it.

It was hoped that from future there might have been some chance of some top associates being made part of the Future Tours Program-FTP. Under FTP it is envisaged that all the Test nations play rest of the 9 test nations over a period of 8 years so that the lower teams had a chance to play the bigger teams. This system has not worked perfectly but something is better than nothing. Adding some of the top associates might have given them the exposure to play the top teams and some additional funding that could have helped the game at grass root level. However what we got from the proposals is that FTP is scrapped and will be replaced by bilateral agreements. It now means that bigger teams have no compulsion to play the lesser teams and it will be guided only by profits they can bring from a series. This ends up Associates with very limited choices and reduce them to begging from full members

For the next cycles the ICC tournaments will only be played in the Big 3. This is a complete you turn on ICC announcement that they could look into proposals of Associate to host the tournaments like ICC World Twenty20. ICC also announced scrapping the Test Series and decided to re-continue the Champions Trophy. Originally this tournament had been started so that the game could be taken to new countries and in a knock out format it included at it's peak as high as 12 countries and has been hosted in unconventional places like Kenya, Bangladesh. Now this tournament has been cut to 8 nations with just the so called big 8 playing the same. There were voices in the circles that the World Cup could be reduced to just 8 countries as Associates don't add any value!!!
Hopefully Ireland would be playing Test Cricket before 2020

The only visible silver lining was that Test Cricket will be opened up and will be based on meritocracy. This has been the demand of many associate cricket lovers and is a welcome move. However even this step has been much below the expectations. The initial proposal was that BD and Zim will be reduced to playing the Intercontinental Cup and then the Top 2 teams would play with the bottom 2 teams of the 8 Test Teams and from these 4 teams top 2 get test status. This was limiting the test status to just 8 nations. Thankfully this backward step was reversed by the hard work done by BD but as was hoped by Associate lovers that there might be increase in Test Nations to 11 or 12 was not the case. Now under the proposals passed the winner of Intercontinental Cup in 2019 will play the 10th rank Test Nation in an home and away format and the winner will get test status for 4 years. Associates which over the year play themselves with very few quality exposures against top teams are now expected to play the 10th rank Test Team who will have played the longest format against all the top teams. This is a very unfair expectation from the Associates to get Test Status.

ICC World Cup Qualifier
Finally in the associate world there were many shakeups for the next cycle. 3 present ODI nations including the only associate world cup semi finalist Kenya besides Neth and Can have lost their ODI status. They have been replaced by impressive homegrown upcoming nations of HK and PNG besides the expat based but impressive UAE. Many expected Ken and Can to lose their ODI status but Neth was a shocker. They were 3rd in the WCL Championship but now have relegated to Div 2!! This is a major shakeup even we do not consider the shake led by big 3. Another surprise besides Neth was that Nepal whom many including me expected to get an ODI status were relegated all the way to Div 3 taking back their cricket by atleast another 4 years. It seemed after the qualification to World T20, the team went into relaxation mode satisfied by a short term achievement and missing on the long term and bigger prize.
The changing world order with PNG, HK and UAE getting ODI status while Neth, Ken and Can losing it

Future & ICC World Cricket League tournaments
Division Five
In the near future we will have the Div 5 taking place which will have Malaysia, Tanzania, Guernsey, Jersey, Nigeria and Cayman Islands which will be hosted by Malaysia. All the teams are homegrown and most of Associate lovers would like to see the potential nations of Malaysia, Tanzania and Nigeria to qualify for Div 4.

Division Four
Div 4 will consist of Oman, Italy, Singapore, Denmark and top 2 teams from 2014 Div 4 tournament. This will be critical tournament for many nations like Oman and Denmark which have been on a downward slide. The top 2 from this will qualify for Division Three
Hopes dashed for millions of fans with team relegated to Div 3. They will have a tough fight to get back in world order

Division Three
Div 3 will consist of Nepal, Uganda, USA, Bermuda and top 2 from Division Four. This will be a cracker of tournament with Nepal and Uganda would be eager to prove themselves to be better than the rest, while USA and Bermuda would be raring to take revenge of last time and top 2 from Div 4 raring to go ahead. The top 2 teams from here would go into Div 2

Division Two
This would be a stepping stone for chance to get future Test Status. The Top 2 teams from this tournament would most likely make the lineup for 8 teams Intercontinental Tournament. This tournament will have the 3 teams which lost ODI status-Ken, Can & Neth besides former ODI nation Nam and top 2 from Div 3.

2015-18 Intercontinental Cup
This would be the first Intercontinental Cup with a purpose that it always lacked. A purpose where the winner will get the Test Nations. The tournament will have the 6 ODI status nations - Ire, Afg, UAE, Scot, PNG and HK besides the top 2 teams from Div 2. Most likely like last time a parallel WCL championship will also run along which might provide a pathway to 2018 ICC World Cup Qualifier in Bangladesh and not the world cup as 2019 World Cup is just 10 nation

There are many things which will become clear as the time progresses. Hopefully ICC does not get into a mode of cutting down tournament for associates which would be death blow to game in future. Also ICC needs to work on getting more members unlike the present case where they have made the criteria for Affiliate membership much more stricter. Then the ultimate big question Cricket into Olympics needs to addressed and that too with ICC working in favor of taking game into the Olympic fold. This will give a much needed step to take game into new markets and will force ICC to become much more open. But turkeys don't vote for Christmas and I am losing hope with the administrators. I hope there will be some light for me at the end of the tunnel

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

ICC World Cup Qualifier Previews Day 3

After a rest day the action begins again with two teams playing their first games. Both are on a downward slide and here to prove a point while the other two are coming from wins and would like to continue that.

Netherlands had their good moments in World Cups and surely would want to relive them

1. Netherlands vs Namibia
Neth proved in the last game that the losses in warmups are just experimental outages. They are here with a purpose and would not like to see any change in plans
For Nam it is the first encounter and hence would want to start it on winning ways and prove a point. The task is daunting but not impossible and they surely will give their best
Verdict:- Neth should take it without much difficulty

2. Canada vs UAE
UAE had a great start to the tournament and they are a determined lot. On the other hand Can are on down slide and would definitely want to stop that. It will be a good encounter but UAE look much more prepared
Verdict:- UAE have done their homework in a much better way and should take this game

It will be an exciting day which can make the tournament much more exciting. Let's hope to see some good action

Sunday, 12 January 2014

2015 ICC World Cup Qualifier Previews- Day 1

This is the first day of a tournament which is expected to be very exciting. There are 4 games on day 1

Netherlands have not been in the best of forms in the warmups having lost both the games comprehensively. They would be worried about their form but this match gives them a perfect opportunity to recoup and gain their momentum.
Uganda on the other hand would be confident after their win over Canada. Incidentally Canada have defeated Netherlands in the Warmups too and this fact would be giving them confidence to prove the critics wrong

Verdict:- Overall Netherlands and very high on experience and have better set of players than Uganda and should take the game easily

Last time these teams met, PNG took the game in the World T20 Qualifiers. PNG would be finding confidence  in this and would be confident to take the game. Kenya on the other hand have a new captain who at junior levels was a successful captain and would be hoping to repeat the magic. PNG are loaded with young talent and know these conditions better than Kenya, while Kenya would be hoping their experience to take them through in the game
Verdict:- It surely will be a closely fought game but I expect PNG to take it away

These teams know each other very well and they know this game is crucial to set the tone for the tournament. Both the teams are high on confidence based on the recent success in the ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier. UAE have an advantage of having more experience having played the WCL Championship and barely missing on World Cup Qualification. For Nepal this tournament is to prove a point that they are ready to join the big boys. The game will be a test of wits.
Verdict:- It will again a very close game and very hardly fought. I expect in the end Nepal to come out as the better team

Scotland are one of the favorites of the tournament. They have a solid lineup with good batting and bowling which are well adapted for the conditions. HK on the other side are a young and dynamic side raring to go ahead. However HK would have to overcome the loss of key player Munir Dar. Overall Scotland would have a massive advantage but don't be surprised if HK produce a shocker
Verdict:- Scotland are massive favorites and should easily take the game

2015 World Cup Qualifier: Preview Group B

Like the Group A, Group B is a equally hard fought group. Uganda had been written off till now but their performance against Canada in the warmup game has now forced them to rethink their position .The group contains ODI status nations like Netherlands and Kenya and upcoming countries like PNG, Uganda & Namibia. Netherlands, Kenya will be playing to save their ODI status and PNG, Namibia and Uganda will be eager to replace them.

Group B is equally competitive as Group A and picking the top 3 teams in difficult

Before going with the review of each team let us check some facts on the group B

Teams:- Kenya, Namibia, Netherlands, PNG & Uganda

ICC Seeding
1. Netherlands
2. Kenya
3. Namibia
4. PNG

1. Netherlands 
They are the favorites to win the tournament along with Scotland however they would be disappointed with their 2 out of 2 loses in the Warmup games against Canada and UAE. They have a good mixture in the team of experience and youth and would be very comfortable with the European like conditions present in NZ. Their experience of playing across the globe along with county experience will be really handy. They have a good pace line up as well as batting line up.
The young and dynamic Ahsan Malik will be player to watch
However Netherlands should avoid being overconfident and taking other teams lightly. These are not old times where they had to fight few teams while other were walkovers. Here each and every team will be a challenge to overcome

Key Player:- Ahsan Malik

Expected Verdict:- Should easily make it to Super Six and strong contender for the trophy

2. Kenya
Kenya are a team which can realistically fall from grace. From the high period of 2003 of reaching the Semi Finals of World Cup to now where they are under serious threat to lose ODI status. To save them from such situation they have called back their old guard like Odoyo and are really hoping they will carry them through. The strength of the team is the loads of experience it had and which come handy like the case in the warm up against Nepal. 
The young Irfan Karim is a real class in the team who has been underutilized
 However the team does not have best of the equations in the dressing room and not the best 15 are alleged to be picked for the tournament. The oldies in the team also bring down the standards of fielding and the youngsters may be too inexperienced

Key Player:- Irfan Karim

Expected Verdict:- Should make it to Super Sixes but do not expect them to retain the ODI status

3. Namibia
Like their African partners they would be hoping to get back to their high days of 2003 when they reached the World Cup. The team has been suffering from many events off field- The controversy of Black Players, Some key players missing tournaments, sponsors pulling off. These events can have a major impact. As they play in South African Domestic setup hence they will not be short of experience. 

Christi Viljoen would be a key batsman who can contribute with ball also

They have a good batting lineup however the balling needs to buck up if they have to make a major impact.

Key Player:- Christi Viljoen

Expected Verdict:- Do not think they have the muscle power to make it to Super Sixes

4. PNG
PNG were impressive in the start of World T20 Qualifiers and many were expecting them to qualify. They defeated Ireland, Netherlands, Kenya in the tournament. However towards the end of the tournament they lost the momentum and missed out on qualification. NZ is like their second home as both NZ and PNG belong to EAP region and PNG will leave no stone unturned to qualify from their second home.
On his day Tony Ura can destroy any bowling lineup single handily
PNG have a explosive batting lineup with some good bowlers in the team. The experience of Geraint Jones will also come very handy to the team. The team however would have to keep their mental strength and not lose it like they did in World T20 Qualifier

Key Player:- Tony Ura

Expected Verdict:- Should make it to Super Sixes. Whether they will play the World Cup or not depends upon their group game against Netherlands

5. Uganda
Many critics have given this team no chance to make it to next round especially after their performance in World T20 Qualifier but little do they realize that Uganda are a much better ODI team than in T20. They in no way can be taken lightly. They have a strong bowling lineup who on their day can blow away any batting lineup. 
Captain Davis Karashani will be key for the team
The batting is a concern for the team but the form showed by the team in warm up game against Canada has shown that lot of hard work has been put in the area. Uganda is one of the favorite team of many Associate Cricket lovers and they would love to see this team good

Key Player:- Davis Karashani

Expected Verdict:- Very unlikely to make it into Super Six

The tournament starts in a day and it surely will be a very good and exciting one. Let's wait for it to see some shocks, some new exciting teams and a load full of action

Saturday, 11 January 2014

My Interview with

I extend my heartiest apprecitation of Birat Raya to give me chance to express my views in my first of Interviews. I am copy pasting the same interview from The interview can be found at the link given below

“I definitely expect Nepal to play the World Cup”
Jashanpreet Singh Gill 
Jashanpreet Singh Gill a keen follower of Associate cricket and Admin of the famous facebook page  ”Associate and Affiliate cricket” is talking with Birat Raya about the upcoming World Cup Qualifier, Nepal chances on it and future of Nepali cricket.
As a keen follower of Associate cricket, how you are watching this World cup Qualifiers (WCQ) ?
To me this would be the most important WCQ which will decide the future of game in years to come. On one hand we have the traditional nations like Canada, Kenya, Netherlands and Scotland fighting for their spots and on other hand we have upcoming nations like Nepal, PNG and UAE very determined to replace them. So to me this is an ultra-important tournament and I will follow each minute of it.
So what kind of result you want from the tournament?
From my heart I would want Nepal and PNG to qualify for the World Cup and if there are 2 more ODI spots (Which ICC is yet to confirm) then I would want Kenya and Scotland to take those spots. But my head also says that replacing Netherlands, UAE and Canada will not be that easy.
Why Nepal & PNG?
Nepal and PNG because it will be good for the game, If I see all the 10 nations then Nepal is hands on ahead of others in Interest of the game. The Playing XI on the ground not only represent the ambition of mere 11 guys but nation as a whole, who would not want such dedicated fan base to be added to the game.PNG also have a big support like Nepal only difference is they are a much smaller in size hence we listen far less comparatively, But the passion is in no way less.
As a supporter of Nepal in this Qualifier, do u think Nepal deserve the place on main tournament?
Well they surely deserve a spot, there is no doubt about it. In fact back in 2012 I have placed bets with my friends that Nepal will be playing in 2015 WC and I see no reason to get back on my bet. But it will not be easy though, they will have to overcome the pace and Bounce which I feel their batsman struggle against. Although they have found 1 young bowler in World T20 Qualifier but still pace attack remains an area of big concern. Having said that I have full belief in the coach and am sure he will carry them to World Cup.
Our senior team is playing for the first time in NZ & the kind of condition. Compared to other teams, it is going to be more difficult for Nepal. Isn’t it?
Well in 2008 Nepal did very well in similar condition in Jersey except for the loss in Semi Finals against Afghanistan. So I feel it is more of a mental block. As a seam bowler you don’t need to be the quickest but should be able to exploit the conditions. Similarly in batting you don’t need to hit every ball .So overall the challenge for Nepal will be to adapt mentally and have the belief, Rest will follow.
So what should be the strategy of Team Nepal in the tournament?
The Basic requirement is to play the natural game. Nepal traditionally has always been better in ODI compared to T20′s and they should not forget that. Beside that the critical factor would be batting. Batsman should concentrate more on rotating strike and should realize that this is not Subcontinent where you need big score of 250+, even a score of 180+ can be a defendable. I am hoping that the batsman will be prepared to face the bouncers and if they succeed on that then nothing else should trouble them. In bowling Spinners will play a crucial role, they are the strength of the team and should find confidence from that. Pace department should focus on swing and bowling in right areas. At the end of the day everything comes down to the basics and team should concentrate on that.
Nepal has been drawn together with Canada, UAE, Hong Kong and
Scotland in group stage, how do you predict the order at the end of it?
Scotland are the team to beat. We must realize that the result here will also be carried forward to Super Six and Netherlands and Scotland are the biggest challengers for that World Cup Spot and the conditions are also on favour of European teams. Beside that I don’t think UAE, HK and Canada will give much trouble. The game against Scotland will decide if Nepal reaches world cup or falls short.
So you are expecting Nepal to play the world cup, can u explain how?
Yes I definitely expect Nepal to play the World Cup. As I already told you that I think Nepal will defeat UAE, Canada and HK at the group Stage and from the other group I expect Netherlands, Kenya and PNG to reach Super Six. Here again I expect Nepal to overcome Kenya and PNG. The critical matches will be against Scots and Dutch. And I am hoping that Nepal will defeat one of them to secure the 2nd place on the tournament.
You are making it so easy.
Well if I have the belief behind the team, it will sound easy and all big things in life are completed in small steps. Hence here too things should be taken on a match by match basis not a tournament as a whole which makes it pretty simple.
Key Performer for Nepal in the tournament?
Well from batting prospective I expect Paras Khadka to be the mainstay and hope Sharad Veshwakar will continue his good form from UAE. Basant Regmi will be critical in bowling and his type of bowling suits the condition. I am also very impressed with Avinash Karn, he has a very good action and will be amazing in New Zealand condition. His left arm action coupled with swing can be deadly like Zaheer Khan used to be for India.
You are the admin of famous page AAC and you have lots of fan in Nepal who follows your information for associate news. Since when you started following Nepali cricket closely & how is the reaction of Nepali fans with you?
Well I always have liked cricket and wants it to be the number one game in the world. I followed Associate Cricket since 1996 when UAE, Netherlands and Kenya played that world cup. Then for many years I was in touch with Associate Cricket through news and internet. Finally in 2011 a friend from Afghanistan asked me to be co-admin of the page Associate and Affiliate Cricket and since then I haven’t looked back. I came in contact with Nepal cricket through in 2010 and since have been following Nepali Cricket very closely. In fact the biggest chunk of followers on my page is from Nepal. Nepali fans are passionate and want their team to do well and a place in 2015 World Cup watching their team play against the likes of India, Australia would finally do justice to them. Hence this tournament becomes even more critical for Nepal.
How do you define the behavior of Nepali fans? We are rated on of the worst by international Critics.
Well that is true, they are presently not the best behaved fans but the fans also mature with time. On the other side we should understand that when the country has been suffering from so much in past few years- Coup, Communist Threat, an indecisive Constituent Assembly then sports represents a big hope and passions are bound to flow. However with things getting better and over the time fans will mature. Passionate fans are never bad for the game.
We talked lots of positive stuffs, what if we neither qualify for world cup nor get an ODI status?
Well that will be very bad for the game. As much as I think the game is doing well in the country, CAN have not done a very good job. Not getting World Cup Spot is still understandable but not gaining an ODI status would be highly demoralizing for the team. Nepal known to be Associate Chokers in past can again go back to the old ways and then it will take another 4 or 5 years to get the team back to this level. This could be nightmare for the development of the game in the country.
You are following Nepali cricket closely since 2010, how do you rate the progress and what are things you want to see in future?
Well the rate of progress has been good but the area that concerns me the most is domestic set-up. If CAN wants the team to challenge the likes of Afghanistan and Bangladesh in future they must work on domestic set up. By domestic set up, I mean a Multi-Day Domestic Tournament besides the regular ODI and T20 competition. And it is time for Players to be centrally contracted. Finally a stadium, we have been hearing about Mulpani since 2008 and its 2014 now and still seem no sign of completion. Internationally if Nepal keep doing the goods and get ODI status, team will get good exposure through the tournaments like Inter Continental Cup. So it is the domestic scene where I want to see some action.
We don’t have good infrastructure and if we get ODI status in this situation how will it affect?
That is why I said Mulpani is critical. If Nepal gets an ODI status then they will have to finish it otherwise they will be forced to play the matches abroad which will not be good for the fans and for the development of game. This is for the sleepy administrators at CAN to understand.
Your message for Nepali cricket fans before WCQ?
“Hope for the best and be prepared for the Worst” is the motto that should be applied in walks of life. They should be hopeful of good performance but just in case they miss out still respect the team. They are giving their best on limited resource.