Home > Cricket Development, Namibia, Nepal, USA > The third tier cricketing nations…

The third tier cricketing nations…

The third tier of International Cricket seems to consist of the following 8 teams: Loser of Nepal/Namibia, Italy, Uganda, Denmark, PNG, Fiji, USA and Malaysia. While the second tier teams get the intercontinental cup, and 6 out of 8 of them also get ODI status, these third tier teams get absolutely nothing.

It is a pity. The game in some of these country is actually going backwards. Take the example of Denmark who in the 70s had a team which could very easily match up with Ireland and Holland, but now cannot. Not just that, but they also were one of the best performers in the ICC trophy in the first 3 editions, reaching even the final once. Back in those days, the game was played by a lot of danish people, but today the game seems to be becoming more and more of an expat, or second gen immigrant game over there. From beating Holland in the 70s, Denmark today tries to be competitive with Dutch clubs sides, and it is not like the Dutch have raised their game to become world champions in the last 20 years !

Most of this is because of the lack of what someone once called ‘true international competition’. Cricket is an international game and is almost always popularly associated with countries. A country playing a match against another country’s domestic side, although good for raising the standard of their game, is not going to do wonders for the popularity. But a country v country concept is much more easily identifiable by the people and the followers.

The lack of a regular cricket calender for a country can wane the interest. Kenya’s performance in the 2003 World Cup was quite good and it did spark an interest. But today, they are at the passion, or lack of it, is in the same place where it was 4 years ago, primarily because they were not given any games to play (well perhaps 2-3) during this time. People displayed an apetite for something, but if you dont give them what they are looking for, they will eat something else and develop a taste for that instead. Sports entertainment is a totally different thing now. When there is interest, you have to give people the game to watch, and nothing works better than their own team.

It is because of this reason that I think that the ICC’s bold moves about giving the other nations ODI status is a good one. It allows them to play ‘true international competition’. Every run they make matters, and every day they play goes down in the record books. Also the intercontinental cup is an excellent move because the ICC takes care of most of the travel costs, something that cash strapped associations would not be able to do on their own. It is not the perfect setting for improvement of skills, playing against a test country’s A side, or against a test country’s domestic side would have helped raise their standard more, but it is a competition that people can identify with and is likely to get more people to care about the matches in those countries. Personally, if I were to look at the websites of some of the leading associates, I see that they talk a lot about their last international competitions with other countries, and there is little or no interest in games against some visiting domestic teams in the past.

What I would like the ICC to do is to also make a second tier of the Intercontinental cup, but not on the same lines as the first tier. A tour in the third tier should only consist of 3 limited overs international matches, not 4 day games. The 8 teams mentioned above should be on that program, and the ICC should ensure that over a 1 year period, they all get to play each other in one series in a round robin format, with a final in the end. This would give them a regular cricket season to look forward to every year, and since it would be spanned over a one year period, the teams can go back and work on their issues before the next series.

The reason why I chose 3 limited overs games for the series instead of a 4 day game is because, in most of the second tier countries, the issue is not just of raising standard, it is also of making the game popular. It is of getting the game mainstreamed in their population and raising the participation levels. A regular season of limited overs game is a better popularity tool for these countries than the 4 day game, which the novice would find to be pretty boring and tedious to watch. In any case, it is going to be very difficult for the players in these second tier countries to take 4 days off from work, but a selection of different players can see them take 1 day off each and play the game. Plus you can always make them play double header limited overs games on the weekend. The fact that they will be playing limited over games can also lead to some tickets being sold for the matches, and that may actually help the boards generate some money to contract the players professionally.

This is off course a utopian view. I understand that the problem is also with players taking time off from work to travel to another country, especially when you are talking about a league that has countries as far away as Uganda, Nepal, Denmark and Fiji from each other. Although 1 tour should be done and over with in a week, with 2 such tours in a year (assuming a 2 year season, like Intercontinental cup of the future) you are expecting a person to sacrifice all of his 2 week vacation on cricket tours, instead of going somewhere with the family.

Also, I have deliberatley chosen the 8 third tier teams above and left out some countries like Oman, Qatar, Kuwait and Cayman Islands. There are different reasons, and that would be a seperate topics by itself.

  1. Sobhit Man Shrestha
    February 14, 2006 at 5:51 am

    Good to know ICC is doing their best to increase the standard of cricket in every country; it will make a good impact on developing countries.

    But I am confused, why do u say third tier countries could not get anything. The experience, which they need. I strongly believe that regular match practice will help to develop their skill & talents.

    & I want to know, isn’t it based on league rules, I mean to say couldn’t highest ranked third tier countries will promote to second? I think it would be the best if last 2 teams second group have to either relegated or play home & away playoff with tops of third tier……

  2. Cuen Lucas
    February 15, 2006 at 4:22 am

    Agreed, regular exposure and experience will be vital to these countries and if such a competition like the one you suggested were to be arranged then I’d
    like to see only two fixtures being 45 or 50 overs counting towards the competition, whilst the third being the 20 over variant would go a long way to popularize cricket in these countries.

  3. February 15, 2006 at 1:22 pm


    There is no intercontinental cup division 2 as yet, or no league like the one that I mentioned for the third tier teams. Thats why I said that they could not get anything, in terms of a regular cricketing calender

  4. ajaya
    March 24, 2006 at 2:55 am

    with india’s recent moves to reduce ICC’s clout in the international scenario, i cant really see any 2nd division league being set up either. money will be a factor, and the ICC really cant afford to support too many leagues
    in some other blog you mentioned the idea of expanding the intercontinental cup to 10 teams from 8 so that nepal,namibia both get in and so do denmark.
    however, that is just a matter of papering over the cracks, postponing the dilemna to a later date
    especially in the case of nepal, with qualification to the intercontinental depending upon 1 must-win game played away from home (a draw means namib go thru), we gotta be realistic. nepal might not make it thru
    i think its really upon the country boards themselves to organize something.
    a good option for nepal is to convince the bangladesh board to let nepal compete in their domestic competition. if nothing else, this gives us further experience and a chance to compete against test-match players
    and when it comes to the ACC, i get the impression its main function is to strengthen the big boys bargaining position at the icc table, all considerations come second

  5. March 24, 2006 at 11:14 am

    Ajaya, why should Nepal play in Bangladesh domestic and not Indian domestic? I think given Bangladesh’s current standard of domestic cricket, I think a full Nepal team would be a little strong for domestic Bangladeshi teams. Also, in terms of cost, India would be cheaper, since its much closer to Nepal than Bangladesh.

  6. March 24, 2006 at 11:19 am

    Ajaya, country boards themselves are always stumped for cash (they get only $50K per year from ICC) and cannot arrange tours. For example, one cannot expect Nepal to go ahead and invite Scotland for a series of 3 three day matches and 5 one day matches. Paying for accomodation, match fees, flights, transportation etc makes it very expensive.

    Which is why I wanted the Nepal and Denmark teams to be incorporated in the Intercontinental cup. ICC pays for most of those tours.

  7. ajaya
    March 27, 2006 at 12:43 am

    about the 10-team solution
    i agree with you that for nepal that would be a wonderful solution right now
    gives us exposure and finances
    i wasnt talking about nepal specifically there, more upcoming teams in general
    what if malaysian cricket improves dramatically in the next few years? you get my drift?
    anyways, your right that most national boards are strapped for cash. even some of the test boards (WI being an example)
    i just think that looking to the ICC for all financial solutions is like waiting for a unicorn to lay a golden egg. some of the money has to be generated internally. theres enough public interest in nepal and malaysia to get corporate partners excited. esp multinationals based in india.
    as for the competitveness of the senior nepali team, i think your being a little too kind to believe they will be competitive in the ranji league
    our team is comprised of amatuers
    ranji folk are professional cricketers
    thats why i think the bangla league would be a better option. when nepal actually has some sort of a domestic multi-day competition and a modicum of professionalism, then would be the time to switch over to ranji level competition
    but were at least a couple of years away from that right now.
    plus, competing in the bangla league is proly still cheaper for nepal. south india is a whole lot further away than bangladesh 🙂

  8. ajaya
    March 27, 2006 at 5:02 am

    so its official
    the intercontinental playoff ended in a draw, namibia go thru and nepal is a ‘third tier nation’. altho it seemed from the scorecard that namibia outperformed nepal, i wonder if the fact that nepal HAD to win to go thru and a whole day’s play was lost due to rain had any bearing on nepal’s batting. cant really fault our bowling, restricting the opposition to 270-odd in the first innings isnt all that bad
    but still i wonder…
    if the match had been in kathmandu (where march is not smack in the middle of the rainy season, as in the case of namibia) and with 25000 nepali supporters baying for namibian blood, could the result have been different?

  9. March 27, 2006 at 10:43 am

    If the game was in Nepal, I am 90% sure the result would have been different. The associate sides always have the problem of adaptation when they go to other conditions.

    I would like to define the third tier as the following:

    Nepal, Denmark, Argentina, Japan, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Uganda and Italy.

    USA, Chile, Kuwait, Oman, Cayman Islands, Fiji and Afghanistan miss out. I am looking at ALL of standard, size of country, economy, political stability, efficiency of cricket association, junior playing numbers as variables. Not just standard, which is the ICCs warped way of looking at things.

  10. Nishadh Rego
    June 23, 2006 at 12:06 pm

    I fail to understand your criteria in choosing which countries make up the third tier of cricket. I do not understand why USA Kuwait Oman Fiji and Afghanistan do no make the third tier when countries such as Japan and Italy which have weaker national sides, U-19 sides, smaller playing numbers, and fewer grounds could make the grade. Though the USA is in the midst of the political struggle, it still possesses a strong U-19 team, and national team capable of crushing Malaysia, Argentina, Nepal, and Italy, possesses more grounds, and much better facilities. I’m surprised you even mentioned Chile who aren’t even Associate members of the ICC and made their international debut this year against teams such as Brazil and Suriname

  11. June 23, 2006 at 2:27 pm


    ok….. I was wrong about Afghanistan, they should have been in 3rd tier, although who knows, they may actually be in the 2nd tier. And I did not include Chile precisly because they are too weak at the momment.

    USA, Kuwait, Oman are all expat based countries, where the cricket economy is unlikely to be generated with locals shunning the game (e.g UAE). Fiji is too small, less than a million people, and I dont think they are really interested in playing cricket, because if they were, they would have been at least Netherlands level in the last 100 years 🙂

    If expat based countries are what the ICC is considering global expansion of cricket, then I think they would be better off giving up on any cricketing activities, and instead open an immigration consultancy to enable people from West Indies and South Asia to emigrate to non test playing countries.

  12. Nishadh Rego
    August 10, 2006 at 4:49 am

    Fair enough, however it is results that will interest the locals in the game and when you have a side that is constantly losing it, quite frankly does not help their cricket. I understand what you mean about expat countries and that is true to a certain extent, but even when you at teams like Denmark, Canada, UAE, or even Netherlands, they have about four to five pakistanis or indians in their sides. Lets face it, cricket is not at the stage yet where we shun the expats, because cricket will die alltogether in those countries. In so many countries, Expats are introducing locals to the game and developing cricket at the grassroots level. Oman has a policy of including “at least one local in all of its league teams.” Its U-19 side has about 5 or 6 locals. The USA is a multicultural society with West Indian Americans, pakistani Americans, Indian Americans etc. who can carry the game themselves in the country and then possibly spread it amongst the white population. If you are talking about Fiji being stagnant, the Malaysian national team has been an utter disappointment over the last 20 years. They have the facilities and the numbers, but they have failed. Bermuda is country with only 65,000 people, and they have made it to the world cup. Population should not be an issue. If countries of less than 10 million people like croatia portugal or senegal can be forces on the soccer world, sure it could be the same for cricket. Countries like Japan and Italy have been given an unexplained mention. Though both foster ethnic development, so do countries such as Thailand, Maldives, Tanzania, Nigeria, and Fiji. The junior sides if not the senior sides of these countries are much better than the those of Japan, and even Italy. Japan doesn’t even have an U-19 team. Sorry I still don’t completely see the sense of your choices.

  13. Chris
    January 27, 2008 at 1:47 am

    Okay, I know this is old, but Nishad mentioned countries like croatia, portugal and senegal being able to perfom with under 10 million people. I don’t think population size is the end-all and be-all of sport competitions, but it certainly is a factor in some way. 10 million is actually quite a large number (Cuba has a bit more than that and New York City has something around that figure depending on if you use the city itself or the metro area). Portugal has had over 10 million from before 2001 and Senegal has had over 11 million people from before 2005. Croatia does have under 10 million (about 4 and 1/2 million) but there are two things which I think we should remember: (1) before 1991 there wasn’t even an independent Croatian football team. Croatia inherited a lot of its footballing infrastructure (and football culture) from Yugoslavia. (2) that Croatia’s population probably is still large enough as other countries with similar population sizes (Costa Rica and New Zealand) do fairly well in sports.

    I suspect however that there might be a population range at which performance will fail to improve in this era of professional sports without either high sport participation (as in Fiji with Rugby union) or without a LOT of money and training. The country that most leads me to suspect this is Uruguay (population almost 3 and 1/2 million). Look at them. They won the Football World Cup in 1930 and 1950 and won gold in football at the Olympics in 1924 and 1928. They also managed to reach the Semi-finals of the FIFA World Cup in 1954 and 1970 and reached the Quarter-finals in 1966. During the period 1930-1970 Uruguay only failed to qualify once (1958) and didn’t come out of the first round once (1962). From 1970-2006 Uruguay failed to qualify 5 times (out of 9 competitons) and in the ones Uruguay did qualify for they never made it past the second round (finishing in 16th place for 1986 and 1990) and never made it out of the first round twice (1974 and 2002). Their highest finish since 1970 has been 13th place in 1974 (when there were still only 16 teams in the FIFA World Cup). Now Uruguay isn’t a bad team, they won the Copa America about 14 times (including 3 times since 1970 and 11 times from 1916 to 1967) and have done fairly well in the Copa America since 1970. However, they have certainly fallen off since 1970 whereas teams like Croatia (or Yugoslavia previously) in football and New Zealand in rugby (and in some forms of cricket) haven’t really. It wouldn’t surprise me if at some point in the future only a very small pool of teams (36 or 40 out of 200) regularly (or exclusively) qualified for the FIFA World Cup in the future with most of the other teams having a nearly 0% chance of really reaching. I suspect that currently any country with under 4 million people (out of the 6 billion in the world) will have a hard time performing well in any sport unless there is very high participation in that sport by the country’s population and unless that sport isn’t fully professionalized (which usually gives wealthier countries an advantage). It may be pessimistic and I’m sure we will all have forgotten this even if it were to come to pass, but I speculate that countries with under 4 million people (or rather under 0.067% of the world’s population, whatever it’s size) will decline in terms of sporting achievement and that specifically Samoa, Tonga and Fiji will start to fall behind in rugby and that in football, teams like Uruguay, all of Oceania (except New Zealand), the really small countries in Africa (CAF) and Asia (AFC) and all of North America, the Caribbean and Central America or CONCACAF (other than the USA, Mexico, Costa Rica, Honduras, El Salvador and Canada) will probably only qualify once in a very blue moon (or at least just very irregularly in the case of Uruguay). Croatia may continue in good form, but seeing as how they haven’t even been separate from Yugoslavia for a full generation yet, I would give them more time to see if they do continue in good form or if the fall off. They aren’t poor however and football is very popular in Croatia (and when they enter the EU their footballers will be able to more freely sign contracts with top clubs and have access to better facilities), so I would say the odds are in Croatia’s favour for remaining in the top 20 of world football (if not the top 10 for now).

    Sorry for the fairly long post. I hope somebody reads it though.

  14. Fumbaloney, Melbourne Australia
    January 27, 2008 at 6:08 am

    Hey Chris,

    This is a cricket blog.

  15. Chris
    January 27, 2008 at 9:54 am

    I know, but what’s applicable to sports in general should be applicable to cricket. Reading it over though I should have actually applied my speculation to cricket though..so here goes:

    I would also speculate that teams from places like Bermuda, the Cayman Islands, the Maldives and in the Pacific (except PNG) will eventually find it very hard to perform on the world stage. Perhaps teams from Kuwait and even Oman might face such difficulty as well, although Oman might be buoyed by continued South Asian immigration.

  16. Chris
    January 27, 2008 at 10:38 am

    Oh and Bermuda’s previous high could well be partially due to high participation rates for cricket in the country (not to mention relatively large government support). In that sense, teams like Ireland, the Netherlands, Canada, Kenya, Scotland, Denmark and Namibia could take a leaf out of Bermuda’s book and really try hard to get participation rates up. If they did I think they would be pleasantly surprised at the results. If Bermuda with 65,000 people can qualify for the CWC then if other associates and affiliates got participation rates to be higher (maybe even half or a quarter of Bermuda’s rate) then they would probably find their performance improving a lot. Perhaps one way to do that would be to have intensive participation and development drives for areas with around 60,000 people in a given country (say the Netherlands) and attempt to get high participation rates in these areas individually. Coupled with current approaches it might just lead to higher participation rates around that country.

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