Not All Associates Are Of Poor Standard
Canada and Kenya’s pathetic efforts yesterday shouldn’t undermine the efforts of other Associate nations to rise up to the highest echelons of cricket.
Canada and Kenya both showed a complete ineptitude towards playing professional cricket at the highest level in their matches yesterday. Kenya faced an average New Zealand bowling attack and were put to the sword instantly. The English-accented Seren Waters was the only batsmen to show any desire to stay around, but even his 16 from 49 balls came to an end unceremoniously after playing around a Hamish Bennett swinger. New Zealand took 8 overs to chase the 70 runs and completely humiliate Kenya. Canada didn’t do much better; wickets were gifted to them by Sri Lanka in chase of a big total as Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene made it clear to them who was the top side on the day. Small batting resistance by Rizwan Cheema and Ashish Bagai only halted the rot for a short time as Canada went on to be skittled for 122, 210 runs behind Sri Lanka.
These are woeful results; no one will gloss over how extensively these two teams under-performed. It has been a quick decay from their impressive efforts in the practice matches, with Canada pushing England all the way and Kenya showing some resolve against the West Indies and the Netherlands. The tournament proper has cast them as unwelcome at the big table because of their lack of resolve.
Not all Associates deserve to be tarnished with the same ideas though. Ireland and the Netherlands have shown in the last two ICC tournaments what can be accomplished with little resources but lots of determination. The results of this have been just as clear with the pillaging of Irish players to England. If Ed Joyce and Eoin Morgan are good enough to play for a Full Member nation, why can’t Ireland have the same title for producing them?
Don’t rule out upsets by Ireland or the Netherlands at this World Cup; as I mentioned in my Associates preview post, if they were in Group A these two teams were a chance of causing some serious upsets and potentially advancing to the Quarter Finals. The grassroots efforts of Afghanistan, the UAE and Uganda are also worth mentioning in this breath, as these teams have shown they’re able to rise up and play well against the bigger nations. Will these teams make the top cut? Afghanistan has already shown they are capable of stepping up immediately with a win in the World T20 Qualifier and the Intercontinental Cup in their first year of doing the rounds on the highest circuits of Associate cricket. UAE has played the Asia Cup a couple of times and always looks close to playing the World Cup (at least under the old models). Uganda upstaged Kenya in a couple of T20s in 2009. Not saying their progression will be quick, but over a 10-15 year period, the ICC needs to figure out just what they want top level Associate cricket to look like and see where the overlaps are between it and Full Member tours.
Casting the Associates out of the World Cup is an insult to the hard work they put in, on their own time and to the detriment of their careers (most are only semi-professional in playing cricket and have jobs to supplement their cricketing), inevitably leading to the drying up of interest in cricket outside of the ten Full Members. Seren Waters has already qualified for England; think about the implications of them robbing from another country to fill their team and ask yourself if that makes sense. Some nations will come and go; Canada and Kenya will be added to the list including Namibia and Bermuda of Associates to play the World Cup without any real success to back it up afterwards.
Eventually the ICC needs to admit there either is no plan to admit more Test Member nations or explain the pathway to that achievement. Without this distinction, the Associates will continue to flounder and eventually capitulate like Kenya has done under the burden of pressure.
Editor of the True Allrounder
Twitter: @JarrodPotter & @trueallrounder