Home > Cricket Development > Opinion: An associate test team?

Opinion: An associate test team?

Nick Deverell on his blog recently made a posting in which he suggested that in order to stop the outflow of promising cricketers from their countries to Test playing nations, the ICC needs to make an associate test team, selecting the best players from the non test playing world, putting them together and making this CA (Combined Associates) team a regular on the ICCs future tours program.

Theoratically, its a good idea, but practically, it is difficult to see this happenning. Here are some of the reasons in my opinion.

First of all, whats going to be the home ground? How are the players going to get together and practice on a regular basis? Obviously the ICC is not going to fly them out from their countries on every occasion. So the players would have to leave their countries and live elsehwere together, perhaps in Dubai. It is there that they will practise and plan and do everything that other teams do, with about 4-5 months off in the year, when they can go home. Now, if people dont come to back the UAE team in Dubai, who is going to come out to back the CA team? Or are we saying that that is not needed? I think we are assuming here that when we talk about associate players not being able to play at the highest level, we are fogeting that they also want to be part of an atmosphere during a match, which the CA team, especially from Dubai is not going to be able to provide.

Secondly, players may not want to leave their home coutnries and go live in Dubai, which will end up in leaving us with the same problem all over again. Sure, Ed Joyce left Ireland for England, but he is only in England, still a 4-5 hours drive away from home, and still in a culturally very similar country. Would be move to Dubai? I cant say.

The third thing is more cricitcal. When scheduling a CA test match, the ICC would have to make sure that it doesnt clash with an ODI or some important ICC tournament game, for any country whose player is playing in the CA team. Otherwise, the player may choose not to play for the home country, but instead play in the higher level test match. This scheduling business may be a little bit more tricky I think that initially seems the case, because if you look at it, some associate team is always playing something somewhere.

The fourth thing is a little bit theoratical on my part. I was once discussing with someone that perhaps the Oceania teams, minus PNG, should be combined to make a Oceania team instead of them playing individually, just like West Indies, because the coutnries are too small. What the other person said made a lot of sense. He said that irrespective of cricket, the Caribbean nations think of themselves as a combined block, but the Oceania countries dont. So you may have 1K people showing up to watch a Vanuatu match in Vanuatu, but even they will probably not show up to watch the Oceania team, because they cant identify with it. Similarly, what may happen with the CA team is that it will make everyone lose interest, instead of creating it. I do not think that if Bas Zuiderant is playing in Kenya, or Dubai, the Kenyan supporters will come out to back him, especially if Tikolo has been dismissed.

Sponsorship for the CA team is another issue. If there is one particular country its easy to identify the sponsor. But I think the CA team would be followed only by people like us, who are interested in associate level cricket:) I dont know how commerically succesful the associate team will be, unless it starts thrashing everyone arround.

Finally, if the associate team starts thrashing everyone around, esp Bangladesh and Zimbabwe, is it going to be fair? We are all assuming that the associate team is going to be weak. But what if it is not? Then people are going to say that it needs to be broken up. Just like people started complaing in the early 80s that the West Indies needs to be broken up because they are too strong and it is unfair that they are getting combined.

ICC would also have to put in a proviso that a person cannot be part of the CA team if at ANY point in his life he has been a citizen or a deemed national for a test playing country. Otherwise all the aspiring test cricketers are going to try and get citizenship into a non test playing country and play test cricket !!

Having said all this, lets see who would be in this test team if it was made today. My team would consist of the following:

AJ Burger (Nam) 
Bas Zuiderant (Net)
Ryan Watson (Sco)
Steve Tikolo (Ken), Capt.
Eion Morgan (Ire)
Mohammed Nabi (Afg)
Atse Buurman (Net), Keeper
Kenneth Kamyuka (Uga)
Thomas Odoyo (Ken)
Edgar Schiferli (Net)
John Blain (Sco)

Under my qualification restrcitions, Ten Doeschate, Paul Hoffman, Dougie Brown, Gaving Hamilton etc. would not qualify because they have been citizens of a test playing country.

Others should give me their opinion on the CA team's composition.

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Categories: Cricket Development
  1. June 25, 2006 at 10:48 am

    It’s a nice idea, but I don’t think it would necessarily help the development of all these individual countries. Also, seeing the disaster of the Super Series, I don’t think it will be considered. Far better to get these second tier countries playing each other more often in 3/4-day games.

  2. June 25, 2006 at 3:17 pm

    Angus,

    Yes, its all theoratical. I doubt that such a move is ever going to be ratified by the ICC members. Nonetheless, it was a possible theoratical idea put forth by Nick Deverell, and I thought I should give my opinion on that.

  3. June 25, 2006 at 6:06 pm

    Yes it is only a ‘what if’. Will it ever happen – I doubt it, but if it did I think it could possibly work (if it didn’t it will be far from the worst experiment by the ICC). In brief, a response to your points:

    1. I mentioned this in the post. Home ground would need to be rotated between Associates. This is one of the reasons for it – It means the host has to provide Test standard facilities. For this idea to work, it would have to benefit the Associates involved. ICC would no doubt have to help with this.

    2. In terms of living away from home, plenty of professional cricketers do that already for whole seasons at a time. Preparing for a series would be no different from going on a long tour. I reckon most Associate players would jump at this if it meant they could play Test cricket.

    3. I agree, this is very important. However, the ICC has had no qualms about shifting Associates around at short notice before. A bit of planning would be required, but if it were done sensibly, there is no reason it shouldn’t work.

    4. I mentioned this as well. I believe the draw factor of being able to watch a Lara/Warne etc would negate the lack of interest in the Associate team. Also, if the team did well, you’d be surprised how many people will start to support a winner.

    5. Sponsorship should not be a problem is approached correctly. The contracts may take a while working out, but I reckon there would be plenty of potential sponsors out there who would look on this as a great way into virgin territory.

    6. The whole point of this is to improve the Associates. It would be great if the team became too strong, because it would mean that one or more or the Associates would be nearing Test Status on its own.

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