ICC Cricket World Cup Preview – The Associates
ICC Cricket World Cup Preview – The Associates
Only four Associates this time around, down from six in 2007. Will they make an impact in this Cup like they have in the past? Jarrod Potter evaluates their chances.
It is very disappointing to lose two Associates from the World Cup. For a tournament styled as the tournament of nations for cricket, there’s a severe lack out them who don’t already sit at the executive table. By going down to four, the ICC robbed blindly Scotland and Afghanistan from playing in this World Cup and considering the way plans look for 2015 in Australia/New Zealand, don’t be surprised if this is the last time many people see the Associates at the ODI World Cup. Four nations, two with a chance of upset, two who are going to get thumped.
World Cup Appearances: 2007
Best Finish: 8th (Advanced to Super 8s in 2007)
Squad: William Porterfield, Kevin O’Brien, Andre Botha, Niall O’Brien (wk), Alex Cusack, Boyd Rankin, George Dockrell, Paul Stirling, Trent Johnston, Albert can der Merwe, Nigel Jones, Andrew White, Ed Joyce, Gary Wilson (wk), John Mooney
Players to Watch: Paul Stirling, George Dockrell, Boyd Rankin, Ed Joyce
This World Cup will be the yardstick on whether Ireland can ever get Test Match status. Defeat a couple of the Test nations and then the onus shifts onto the ICC again. They’ve got all the weapons necessary to make a big run at the Quarter Finals. The baffling decision to deny Hamish Marshall’s application for a special dispensation to play is evidence of the ICC wanting the Associates to stay weaker than they have to be. Casting that stupidity aside, the rest of the lineup is packed full of undiscovered talent and will ruffle a few feathers in Group B (or entice England to give them fat contracts to defect; either way).
Ed Joyce will hopefully have told his countrymen about the woes of defection to the Poms. Only around for a handful of ODIs for the old enemy before being discarded after the World Cup, ironically preventing him from playing for the home team until now. He is the middle order lynchpin that other more fiesty batsmen will build around. His batting was crucial for Ireland qualifying for the last World Cup (defected just before the World Cup started having impressed in various qualifiers for Ireland), but now will lace up for the right country. Will hopefully slam a few runs to show his dismissal from England was unjustified.
The next three are all players England will desperately want to steal. Boyd Rankin is on England’s radar for good reason; he’s 6 ft 7 in, can extract bounce and pace from any pitch. A stress fracture in his foot might be an ongoing worry, but as long as he’s fit he’ll take the new ball and find ways to beguile the opposition. Paul Stirling the fiery opener, who recently belted 177 against Canada, will lead the batting and smash a few opposing numbers out of the attack. Career strike rate of 87 is exceptional for a 20 year old. Should reach 1000 ODI runs by the end of the World Cup. Stirling also bowls handy offspinners to complete a very well rounded résumé. George Dockrell is another of great talent at a young age; took 3-16 at the World T20 against the West Indies and a couple of 3-for performances against Zimbabwe. Not bad for an 18 year old, slow left-arm orthodox bowler. The conditions in Bangladesh and India will suit him nicely. Definitely on the English radar, having snagged a contract with Somerset.
Ireland are the team I hope does some damage to the old establishment. If they can grasp three wins, they’ll find their way to the Quarter Finals and possibly further. This will indicate to the ICC there is full reasoning to let them sit at the big table as a Full Member of the ICC. The longer they are forced to hang around without any pathway, the sooner they’ll start to stink up the place and lose their window of opportunity. It is neglectful and stupid to let England rob this nation blind when if given the same repertoire of ICC money and international revenue, they would thump a good deal of the old boys.
World Cup Appearances: 1996, 1999 2003, 2007
Best Finish: Equal 3rd (Advanced to Semi Finals in 2003)
Squad: Jimmy Kamande (c), Thomas Odoyo, Tanmay Mishra, Peter Ongondo, James Ngoche, Elijah Otieno, Shem Ngoche, Maurice Ouma (wk), Alex Obanda, Rakep Patel, Collins Obuya, Steve Tikolo, David Obuya (wk), Seren Waters, Nehemiah Odhiambo
Players to Watch: Seren Waters, Steve Tikolo, Collins Obuya, James Ngoche
Anything less than utter annihilation for Kenya will be a surprise. They are a team forged on the back of shaky back-room deals, players who routinely under-perform and a general lack of team dynamic to get them over the line.
We all remember 2003 and the surprise this Kenyan team delivered. Defeating Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe and Bangladesh was impressive, but this has not translated into anything more than a disappointment. Their return to the World Cup in 2007 saw them demolished by New Zealand and England, with a consolation win against Canada their only real accomplishment.
Seren Waters, the Kenyan 20 year old opening batsmen, has skills honed in the English school system and needs to prove the tuition has been worth it. Attacking opener who probably has to burden a lot of the run scoring with Steve Tikolo and Collins Obuya. Speaking of, the two aforementioned batsmen, dare I say it, the architects of their 2003 success need to show that 8 years on they are still relevant. Tikolo is closer to his pension than the start of his career and Obuya has stopped bowling for reasons unknown to focus on a shaky batting technique. These three batsmen hold all the cards for Kenya, as their bowling is either old, inexperienced or untalented.
One diamond in the rough to follow is James Ngoche. Very young offspinner, with good ODI stats of 13 wickets at 18.23 in his 9 matches. Time will tell if these results against other Associates translates against the big boys, but hopefully he offers something with the ball to help Kenya defend their totals.
If Kenya escape the group with wins against anyone significant I’ll be surprised. Wins against Zimbabwe or Canada are possible, but asking anything more from there is ambitious.
World Cup Appearances: 1979, 2003, 2007
Best Finish: Group Stage (All Appearances)
Squad: Ashish Bagai (C/WK), Rizwan Cheema (VC), Jimmy Hansra, Khurram Chohan, Harviv Baidwan, Nitish Kumar, Balaji Rao, Henry Osinde, John Davison, Hiral Patel, Parth Desai, Zubin Surkari, Tyson Gordon, Karl Whatam, Ruvindu Gunasekara, Hamza Tariq
Players to Watch: Rizwan Cheema, Ashish Bagai, Nitish Kumar
Out of necessity do I post about Cricket Canada. Every step they take pushes them back further. Their team has little to no tangible home-grown talent, heavily reliant upon imports from Pakistan, India and the West Indies and seem to be doing nothing to change this. There are three players in their squad who were born in Canada; John Davison, Nitish Kumar and Zuban Surkari. For any other country (beside England) this would be disgracefully low, but it is a sign of the inability of Cricket Canada to breed juniors to rise up and take spots in the order. Instead they’re stuck with dinosaurs like John Davison, who at 40 years old proves letting go of your favourite sport isn’t easy when the team you play for is woeful.
Rizwan Cheema (born in Pakistan) is a decent enough batsman who has the ability to clear the ropes consistently, having hit 24 from 21 ODIs. Needs to convert fifties into hundreds if Canada stand a chance of putting up a fight. Ashish Bagai (born in India) captains this ragtag team and will be forced to hold the batting together for large chunks of the tournament. Chronic underperformer at an international level, needs to turn it around or else his punishment will be to captain Canada until he’s 60.
Nitish Kumar, (A CANADIAN BORN CANADIAN CRICKETER!) is still wet behind the ears at the tender age of 16. Cultivating prospect in the years to come, but definitely not ready for international cricket at this stage of his very short life. Will captain Canada one day, but hopefully not for a half decade or more yet given some decent development prior.
Canada are going to get thumped from corner to corner. Anything less than 150 run or 8 wicket losses will be astonishing to me. No one will field a real team against them, with part timers, experimentation and shock tactics used against Canada in preparation for a match against a proper team. Very disappointing this group of cricket refugees gets slapped together and earns a World Cup spot over more deserving teams like Afghanistan or Scotland. Such is the way of the ICC World Qualifier, but it’s in name only they’re Canadian and accordingly don’t deserve the red bars and maple leaf of their flag. What’s left for this group of no-hopers is a plain, white flag to fly in perpetual surrender.
World Cup Appearances: 1996, 2003, 2007
Best Finish: Group Stage (All appearances)
Squad: Peter Borren (c), Adeel Raja, Wesley Barresi (wk), Mudassar Bukhari, Atse Buurman (wk), Tom Cooper, Tom de Grooth, Alexei Kervezee, Bradley Kruger, Bernard Loots, Pieter Seelaar, Eric Szwarczynski, Ryan ten Doeschate, Berend Westdijk, Bas Zuiderent
Players to Watch: Ryan ten Doeschate, Tom Cooper, Pieter Seelaar
The Netherlands reside within the far tougher Group B and won’t have the zipping bowling of Dirk Nannes to help manufacture victories against the Full Members like at the World T20. Despite losing the services of the Dirk in the last two years, they’re fielding quite a decent team of imports, which similarly engenders them to the likes of Canada and England. Not many naturalised Dutchmen in the team, but unlike Canada these imports are worth their place in side.
Ryan ten Doeschate is hands above the best Associate Player in the history of the ICC. Exceptional batsmen, handy slow-medium bowler and good in the field. There’s a reason he plays in pretty much every domestic T20 competition on Earth. Has an ODI average of 68.55 or more significantly, due to always playing against weaker opposition, List A average of 46.87. Classy in all forms of cricket and will be the man all Dutch fans turn to for match winning innings.
Tom Cooper, the NSW-cum-South Australian batsmen has also had a great start to his ODI career with the Netherlands. 10 innings, 5 fifties and a hundred to take his average to 65.44. Yet to make a big impact with South Australia, but will develop into a gifted player in years to come.
Finally a naturalised Dutchman to comment on, Pieter Sellaar is a slow left arm orthodox bowler who is supposedly destined for big things. Was the penguin dancer against England in that amazing World T20 victory for those with lengthy memory. Improving his batting and will be well suited to the pitches on the subcontinent turning the ball away from right handers.
The Netherlands will probably finish last in Group B, not due to a lack of talent, but because of the difficulty that side of the draw presents.
The Associates will have to enjoy this World Cup, as the new format for 2015 all but rules them out of playing there. Hopefully they can embarrass some Full Members in this tournament to make a point that their exclusion is unwarranted.
Editor of the True Allrounder
Twitter: @JarrodPotter & @trueallrounder