Associate Nations: Fodder for the Big Names or Future Stars?
Ever since the success of the first Cricket World Cup in 1975, ICC has been holding ICC World Cup Qualifiers ahead of every World Cup to date. As every one of us gears up for the IPL and the forthcoming different versions of game, it is time we have a look at some of the big names among these Associate members.
Truth is, these players are just plain amateurs. Some of them play the game just for a part-time basis. It really comes down to the question as to whether teams form part of the punching bag at the biggest stage. Well, in that case, Sri Lanka was an associate member in 1979. So was Zimbabwe in the late '80s.
The ICC World Cup Qualifiers are taking place as we speak in South Africa. This slideshow is just a look at the Super Eights. The picture of the title slide is that of Dwayne Leverock, who plays for Bermuda. This is a picture of him taking a catch to get rid of Robin Uthappa (India) in the ICC World Cup 2007.
Most of the current generation might know just John Davison, the Canadian batsman who scored a whirlwind century against the West Indies in the
Canada is not sanctioned to play Test matches; the team does take part in One Day International matches and also in first-class games (in the ICC Intercontinental Cup) against other non-Test-playing opposition, with the rivalry against the United States cricket team being as strong in cricket as it is in other team sports. The match between these two nations is, in fact, the oldest international fixture in cricket, having first been played in 1844.
As of now, the majority of the players in the squad are expatriates. It is quite interesting to see many Indian and Pakistani expats playing for a team without fighting against each other.
Some of the notable players in the current squad include Ashish Bagai (Wicketkeeper captain in the picture), Rizwan Cheema, John Davison, and Sunil Dhaniram.
Not a stranger to anyone who saw the ICC World Cup 2007. This is the team that shocked the cricketing fraternity with a victory over Pakistan. Though the team was not able to replicate their success, most of their players do have a presence in County cricket and thus not all are new faces.
The O'Brien brothers and the then captain Trent Johnson played a vital role to the team. The best thing the Irish team may have enjoyed in that WC was probably when Boyd Rankin took the wicket of Ed Joyce-England player, but actually an Ireland player. Even now, Ireland seems to have trouble in retaining players, as they keep losing them to England. The latest is Eoin Morgan.
Their victories over Pakistan and Bangladesh made them heroes back at home. The same team had also managed a dramatic draw against Zimbabwe in that very tournament (ICC WC 2007).
United Arab Emirates
It is very hard to actually place this team. There are hardly very few nationals in this team. Actually, it is quite a surprise that UAE has a cricket team, as they are more of a football crazy nation. I know, as I lived there for nearly 19 years.
The only thing famous as of now about UAE and Cricket are two things: The Sharjah Cricket Stadium and the fact that ICC Headquarters is situated in Dubai. They are yet to make a mark in the international scene.
However, they have been a consistent force among the Associate member circuit. Though the majority of their players are expats and of Indian and Pakistani origin, I found it really funny when I first saw this team. Let's hope this is a forerunner to more and more nations in playing cricket.
The biggest name in this outfit would be Ryan ten Doeschate. A fine allrounder who has his presence in the county cricket scene.
There are others too, in the forms of Edgar Schiferli, Jeroen Smits, Daan van Bunge (Herschelle Gibbs hammered him for six sixers in a single over), and Bas Zuiderent. The most exciting young prospect is Alexei Kervezee.
The team has successfully qualified for the forthcoming T20 World Cup in England, along with Ireland and Scotland. So I guess we will be seeing lots from this team. Here is some interesting info history-wise:
Cricket has been played in the Netherlands since at least the 19th century, and in the 1860s was considered a major sport in the country. Many other sports (notably football) have long since surpassed cricket in popularity amongst the Dutch, and today there are around 6,000 cricketers in the Netherlands, making it the 25th most popular sport. The first national association, the forerunner of today's Royal Dutch Cricket Association, was formed in 1883 and the Netherlands achieved Associate Membership of the ICC in 1966.
Though the mention of this country would bring uncomfortable images to one's mind, especially on political grounds, I do not wish to dwell on that.
The Afghan cricket team has been the biggest surprise and most hyped team in this year's qualifiers. The picture here is that of Hamid Hassan, whose five wicket haul against the Irish demolished the same, though the chances of the Afghans making it to the WC is very remote.
However, they still have chances of gaining ODI status, and that would be something for this war-stricken nation. Sometimes a normal sport can change things for a country; let's hope it does for Afghanistan.
This is one nation no cricket lover would easily forget since the mid '90s., with victories against Sri Lanka and West Indies in the World Cup.
But since 2003, it has been a decline for this team, and to compound matters, there was the ban imposed on Maurice Odumbe over match-fixing. There are quite some old timers in the form of Steve Tikolo, Collins Obuya, and Thomas Odoyo. However, the new players to watch out for include Seren Waters (in the picture).
Let's see if this team can reclaim its glory, though they never scaled greater heights apart from those surprise wins.
The first recorded cricket match in Scotland took place in Alloa in 1785. It would be another 80 years, however, before Scotland played their first full match, against Surrey in 1865, where they won by 172 runs.
Apart from that, they have qualified for the T20 World Cup 2009. The star players include Gavin Hamilton (in picture), Ryan Watson, Gordon Goudie, Dewald Nel, and John Blain.
There are a few expats in this team, but it's quite a good thing that slowly and steadily, the associate nations are bringing up home-grown talent rather than relying on expat players.
Besides, it's high time that cricketing media actually pay attention to these teams when they play. Cricket, if it at all wishes to be seen as a global game, should encourage more teams by giving them a platform and making the same visible.
The Scots have been having a seesaw kind of form of late. They are regulars in the Friends Provident Trophy, where they are known as Scotland Saltires.
With the likes of Louis Burger and Gerrie Snyman, this team looks more like a South African and Dutch outfit from the names of the players. However, with a few youngsters in the side, this is a pretty looking associate nation that needs to be taken seriously.
The players that need to be seen with keen interest include Louis Klazinga, Hendrik Marx, Bernard Scholtz, and Nicholaas Scholtz.