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Opinion: An opening for Second tier countries…. but not all…..

One thing that the developing Cricket world usually forgets is that the English county teams, at least 10 of the 18, every year embark on a 10-14 day pre season tour to warm up for the county season. In all cases, they tour countries NOT in Europe, because the weather in March and April is still too cold to play cricket. For example, this year Essex, Somerset, Gloustershire and Notingamshire toured SA, Surrey and Middlesex are touring India, Durham is touring UAE, and Lancashire is touring St Kitts (part of WI Leeward Islands). One can see that the objective is just to warm up, because the county players are actually looking for opposition which is slightly weaker than the county sides that they will face in the season. Also, due to cost factors, the county side manages to stay put in one city, and tries to play the games with club opposition, and not domestic sides of the country they are touring. The exception is UAE, as was Zimbabwe in the 1980-1991 period, where they actually play against the national side under the logic that the national side is still weaker than the county opposition in the season.

The main point is that the cost of the tour is borne completely by the English County touring. The home side has minimal cost.

The new cricketing nations, or minnows as they are called, should make use of this as much as they can. For example, why doesnt the Kenyan Cricket board invite a county side to tour them instead of SA. It is going to be slightly cheaper for the English county as well. Namibia can do the same. So instead of 4 county sides touring SA and playing against the University teams or club teams over there, they can play against National opposition from Kenya or Namibia. I dont think the national teams from the second tier are that much weaker compared to clubs in the test nation. Maybe domestic teams from test sides are stronger, but not club sides.

The asian countries which can make use of these tours are UAE, Nepal and Malaysia. UAE is already doing it, and this is their second year running so that is excellent omen for them. Nepal and Malaysia need to step up. They have the facilities to host a cricket side for 2 weeks, and they have the grounds to play the games as well. It would be good for for them if the tours can take place in these countries instead of India.

Finally, regarding the Americas, instead of WI, the tour can go to either Canada, Bermuda or, surprise surprise, Argentina. I dont think Canada would be able to host the touring side because they are unable to get their team together due to the expenses involved in travelling. Bermuda apparently does not have the facilities (though it is surprising to me that they dont), and apparently there is a problem with the pitches on which they play. Argentina then appears to be the best bet for the touring side, and perhaps the MCC that had such a good tour of Argentina in Jan 2006 can put in a few good words for the country's cricket future.

This is just an idea, that associations need to think upon. Zimbabwe played at least 2 county sides every year from 1980-1991, and that was instrumental in their raising the standard of the game in both the first class and the one day format. It also gave great exposure to the Zimbabwean players to the county circuit, and many of them ended up becoming professional cricketers in the counties that they impressed on their tour e.g. Kevin Curran etc.

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  1. March 30, 2006 at 9:19 pm

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