Associate Cricket: EAP Div1 Review / African Div1 Preview
No surprises in East-Asia Pacific Divison 1. Unfortunately, the stunted region had only one place available and barring diaster in the final, that was always going to be Papua New Guinea. They won it from the top order, batting first in every game, Vala and Ura piled on 726 runs between them in their 6 games including two tons. Not that the bowling was shabby as they had 3 of the top 6 wicket-takers with the ball as well. Vanuatu were worthy finalists over a higher-rated Fijian side, losing in the group stages but winning their semi-final and pushing PNG the closest of any team. Samoa too, can consider the tournament a success, with a third place finish and wins over both Vanuatu and Fiji. Japan, disappointing, but it is very early days for them.
Africa Division One is a slightly strange tournament as although two qualifiers will progress, the five competitors include Kenya who have a guaranteed place in the WT20 (and had been listed to include Zimbabwe A). Why top associates can't qualify is beyond me, as it perpetuates an un-meritocratic division of teams that is the bane of associates looking to progress to test status.
It would be an extraordinary shock if the two qualifying teams were not Namibia and Uganda, who have the pedigree at the next level, and the high performance program dollars to properly prepare. Uganda will obviously be the most vulnerable, and it will be fascinating to see how deep cricket is at the next level, by comparing the efforts of surprise qualifiers Ghana and Nigeria to their experienced competitors. At the top, Namibia have a chance to show what recent results have only hinted at: that it is now they, not Kenya who are Africa's best associate team.
Update: or Namibia could, if Kenya hadn't of sent their U/19 team. Yet another sign that automatic qualification leads to a devaluing of competitions.
9th July, 2011 18:46:34