World Cricket League Division Five Underway On Friday
Afghanistan players during training for the tournament.
Twelve hopeful teams have been assembling on the Channel Island of Jersey this week all consumed by the knowledge that this could be the start of a long and winding path eventually leading them to the Asian sub-continent for the ICC Cricket World Cup in 2011.
As teams will be representing such diverse places as Afghanistan, Japan, Vanuatu, USA, Mozambique, Bahamas and Germany the ICC World Cricket League Division 5, which runs from 23-31 May, is an example of how cricket can bring nations together in a spirit of sportsmanship and give opportunities for players to pit their talents against rivals from all over the globe.
As part of the ICC’s commitment to growing and promoting the game around the world, it will be providing comprehensive coverage of this event direct from the green fields of Jersey.
Ball-by-ball scores as they happen, match reports, photographs, broadcast-quality audio clips and interviews with players and coaches will be made available for free use by media via the tournament website at www.iccworldcricketleague.com. For television, there will also be video news releases and colour features issued for subscribers by SNTV.
The 12-team event will be staged across six venues and will take the format of two groups of six with the top two from each section progressing to the knock-out stage.
The finalists from this tournament will be promoted to the ICC World Cricket League Division 4 thus joining Hong Kong, Fiji, Tanzania and Italy in a six-team event that will take place in the Tanzanian capital of Dar Es Salaam from 4 to 11 October.
In turn, the top two teams from that tournament will progress to WCL Div. 3 in Argentina next January and then the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier 2009 in the UAE, which incorporates Divisions 1 and 2.
At the end of that tournament, the top four Associate or Affiliate teams in the world will be booking their places at the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 to be staged in Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Those four will join the 10 Full Members to decide the top one-day side in the world.
“Such a high profile event is very important for the development of the game in our country,” said Bahamas captain Narendra Ekanayake.
“The game is rapidly becoming more and more popular, and a successful tournament will mean even more cricket coverage in the media and also give something for our prospering youth to aspire to.
“The team has been in training for around four months now. This training has involved a big fitness regime at the beginning and then moving on to working hard on the technical and tactical side of the game. We have also been lucky enough to have a strong Americas tournament in the middle of the training schedule, resulting in exactly the right preparation for a tournament such as this,” he added.
Cricket in Japan will get a huge boost if the national team does well in Jersey, according to team manager Jarrad Shearer.
“The biggest problem cricket in Japan faces is lack of exposure. The average person just doesn’t know what cricket is,” said Shearer.
“That’s why tournaments like this are so important. By being successful in Jersey, hopefully we’ll get more exposure domestically. Our goal for this tournament is, first and foremost, to win it and progress to Division 4 – we’re not here just to make up the numbers. At the very least we aim to finish in the top six at this tournament to stay in Division 5,” he added.
“Preparation has been difficult as our season doesn’t start here until April so very few of the players have had any club matches. To make matters worse, it has been a very wet season so far and few games have been able to be played. Nonetheless, we started pre-season in January and slowly built up both skills and fitness work. As winters here are quite cold, much of our training has been indoors at a tennis centre.
“We have played some practice games against a few local clubs, and we also played two games at the beginning of May against Melbourne Cricket Club, whose players included an ex-Test cricketer and a current New South Wales representative. Those games were excellent practice and we gained a tremendous amount from them. Both were close affairs and we won the second game.
“Our number three batsman Masaomi Kobayashi is definitely a player to watch. He hits the ball hard and has a tremendous eye, which gives him a lot of time to play his shots. We expect he will score a lot of runs and give most teams grief.
“Our wicketkeeper and opening batsman Tatsuro Chino is also a tremendous prospect. He has great hands behind the wicket – he didn’t drop a catch nor let a single bye through at the ICC East Asia-Pacific tournament in Auckland last year,” said Shearer.