Home > Cricket Development > Opinion: A suggestion for the ICC

Opinion: A suggestion for the ICC

The ICC perhaps need to restructure their iteneraries for the associates a little bit in order to improve the playing standards in an organized fashion. I believe that they are already looking into this, but I have a few suggestions in this regard.

First, the intercontinental cup needs to have 8 teams, but not the ones the ICC has at the momment. Given that Bangaldesh and Zimbabwe are not playing a lot of cricket, and are only playing amongst each other mostly, it would be a good idea to have the following teams in the intercontinental cup : Bangladesh, Zimbabwe, Scotland, Netherlands, Ireland, Kenya, Bermuda and Canada. These would be the 2 worst test teams, and the top 6 associates from the ICC Trophy. The games between the countries should be organized on a tour basis. Each country has to play each other, and has to play at least 1 ‘4 day’first class match, in addition to 3 ODIs. All countries must play each other once, though, where they play should be based on cost etc.  The intercontinental cup should span 2 years (ICC is already looking at that) during which time all these countries can play each other; this means 4 tours (2 home, and 2 away) every year. The duration of a tour can be 2 weeks. The full round robin would take 2 years, so there can be 2 full rounds over the 4 years till the next ICC Trophy. This would mean that the same teams, and not the new qualifiers would be playing in the year the ICC Trophy takes place (i.e. in 2009, the teams listed above would be playing in the intercontinental cup, even if say Bermuda loses its spot to UAE or Namibia. The news teams would enter the intercontinental cup from the year 2010).

Zimbabwe and Bangaldesh would be the 2 designated weakest teams until 2012 when the next future tours programme is decided. At that time the ICC can see if another team, say WI, is weaker than Bangladesh, then they can put WI in the intercontinental cup instead of Bangaldesh. Though I see issues with this (try getting India, even if they have lost all their test matches and are ranked the lowest, to play the associates in intercontinental cup), it is hoped that the standard of the associates would be significantly higher by that time. Whatever 2 teams are decided by the ICC can be put in the intercontinental cup for another 6 years, along with their test duties.

ICC also needs to have the second division in intercontinental cup. This would include the following countries: Nepal, Afghanistan, Denmark, Uganda, Namibia, UAE, and the 2 weakest associates from Div 1 of previous year (or from ICC Trophy if relegation is not an option due to scheduling), which in the current case would be Canada and Bermuda. The same format will apply to the division 2 as well, except that the fact that the first class game can be a 3 day game, and the 50 over matches will not be ODIs. Promotion to Div 1, or relegation to Div 2 will be based on ICC Trophy results and not on performance in the intercontinental cup, at least initially.

The path for other teams, to make into this intercontinental cup is to get a position in the top 6 of the ICC trophy. At least for the next 10 years I dont see any other team making to the top 6 of the ICC Trophy apart from the ones listed in my 2 divisions above. If a new team, say Malaysia, qualifies in the top 6 of the ICC trophy, then everyone will be pushed one spot down, essentially relegating the last ranked team in Div 2 into oblivion.

The one major problem I see with this model is that Canada and Bermuda will be required to play double the games, because they will be part of 2 leagues at the same time. They will in most certainty not be able to achieve this, Bermuda perhaps will be because they are becoming an always available pro unit, but Canada perhaps not. In that case, the ICC can experiement with using Zim A and Bang A for Intercontinental Cup Div 2, or perhaps just giving the 2 spots to any takers from Div 1. 4 tours away and 4 home tours every year is going to be too much not for an associate nation, but also for a test nation (though, it would be 4 months of cricket every year, which is what I think a normal cricket season should look like for the associates so that they can get sponsorships and a regular stream of fixtures).

I just dont see yearly relegation or promotion system in the current situation between divisions when the ODI status is only given to 6 associates, and it is given for a 4 year period. Plus relegation and promotion will also need yearly schedule changes and date changes and I dont forsee that to be a trivial task either. This 4 year relegation and promotional system, based on who has ODI status and who doesnt, is perhaps more practical.

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Categories: Cricket Development
  1. Ram
    July 19, 2006 at 6:36 pm

    Nasir,

    Good post that..I would like to make a few comments on that:

    1. I feel we’re talking about promotion/relegation for a 4-day competition based on one ODI tournament held every four years…Now the problem is the ICC trophy doesn’t always give the best 6 teams the ICC is looking for simply because not all teams get to play against each other in that tournament, which explains why Bermuda and Canada are in the World Cup, though they lose to UAE comfortably and get thrashed by county 2nd XIs while Afghanistan , which defeated county 2nd XIs doesn’t get anything except the odd ACC trophy..Consequently, don’t you think too much is at stake in that ONE ICC trophy given that 4 years can make the difference between progressing to a leading Associate or degrading into oblivion, as was seen in Kenya’s case?

    2. I agree that yearly promotion/relegation may not be a good idea but how about once every two years?..Don’t you think rapidly improving countries like Afghanistan/Nepal may suffer at the hands of teams like Bermuda/Canada who may hardly turn out to be a serious force over a four-year period against arguably much stronger opposition?

    3. I think the top 6 should get to play in Div I of the Intercontinental Cup while the next 8 (to include the equally strong USA and Malaysia/PNG) get to play in Div II…About the other 2 teams in Div I, how about asking the A teams of the 7th and 8th placed Test teams to participate?..For commercial reasons, these Associates can still get their fair share of 3 ODIs against Ban/Zim but instead the 4-day match will be against these two A teams..I don’t think Test sides would have any problems in sending their A teams to participate in such a tournament…Why I say A teams is because unless these teams start defeating them regularly, they’ll not get anywhere near Test status, so now is the time to give them the exposure in the hope that 6-8 years down the line, some of them may be knocking on the doors of Test status..

    4. Promotion/relegation can be for 1 national team to start with and can later be increased to two..why I say this is because we won’t know the difference in class between the two divisions until the promoted/relegated national teams perform in their new divisions over the next 2 years..

    Why I include the A teams of 7th/8th Test teams ahead of Ban/Zim in Div I while I include two additional countries in Div II ahead of Zim A/Ban A is because I feel the Div I tournament should give exposure to 4-day cricket against top quality opposition while Div II should be all about giving more teams the exposure to multi-day cricket..If they are too good for Div II, they can anyway be promoted to Div I where they’ll get quality games…Actually, I would love the ICC to include Zim A and Ban A in Div II and Zim/Ban in Div I to make it 10 teams against each other, but am not sure if cost factors can be favorable (over a 2 year period)…

  2. July 25, 2006 at 3:30 am

    Ram, I think we dont need to have A teams from WI or Eng playing the intercontinental cup, Zim and Bangladesh should suffice over there. They are good enough teams for the top 6 associates.

    The only problem that I see with my model is that Bermuda and Canada cannot possibly play in 2 leagues at the same time. That would be too much cricket for them to play. So something else has to be figured out.

    Regarding relegation and promotion over a 2 year period, I dont know if that is possible either. Cricket tour is expensive, with overseas tickets and hotelling involved, in addition to players from the associate countries getting leaves from their regular work and they have to tell their employers well in advance. I cannot see this happenning at a short notice. The overall calender has to be long enough so that the players by themselves can also do some soul searching regarding how serious they would like to be about the game.

    Regarding Zim A and Bang A in div II, that is quite possible, but I am not sure if these countries would like to send their A players and play against weaker teams.

    Also, I would not include the USA in anything (what advantage would it be to give multi day cricket experience to a 43 year old WI test player in Clayton Lambert?). And Malaysia/ PNG in my opinion are too weak at the momment.

  3. Ram
    July 25, 2006 at 5:55 am

    Nasir, I agree that Ban/Zim would prove to be more than a handful for the Associates but I feel the top Associates are ready to be exposed to 4-day games against Test A sides; they may get thrashed to begin with but can improve more rapidly than by playing against Ban/Zim…I feel defeating Ban/Zim in 4-day games consistently may not be the ticket to Test status because defeating A teams is the priority the ICC seem to have rightly embarked on before granting any nation Test status..

    The problem here is while the 3 European Associates are strong enough to deserve some games against A sides, Ken, Can, Ber may get badly thrashed..So, restricting to Ban/Zim and instead asking Sco, Ire and maybe Netherlands to arrange their own A tours/visits is a good idea..

    About USA not deserving the exposure, don’t Canada and other expat-based teams come under the same category?..In any case, how can we selectively exclude USA from the scheme of things?

    Also, Given that Malaysia/PNG don’t get anything now, shouldn’t they also be given a chance?…How else can they get exposure, especially to multi-day cricket?..Of course, I’m assuming here that these 2 countries are next in line in terms of cricketing standards and growth potential..

  4. July 25, 2006 at 1:33 pm

    Ram, first of all you are assuming that Bangladesh and Zimbabwe are going to remain the weak teams they are forever. Dont know about Zim, but thats not going to happen in the case of Bangladesh, which will be a fairly strong team given 6-7 years. At that time, it WOULD be a ticket to test status, if the associates beat them regularly. But test status is not based on standard of senior team alone. Only Ireland at the momment has a strong senior team at the associate level, and also a strong U19 team.

    Regarding USA, yes Canada and other expat teams deserve the same treatment from the ICC but one cannot help it if the expat team goes ahead and qualifies for the World Cup. In that case, the ICC HAS to back them. If USA were chosen, it would be a subjective choice, and I cannot fathom why anyone would choose the USA subjectively for Cricket. If I had to choose, I would go with UAE; at least they have 50% South Asian population, great facilities, and board loaded with money. USA board cant even pay for their team to get together and practise.

    Finally, one cannot incorporate every single team in my model. I was intending to incorporate only the top 12 below test level that have a good future. ICC doesnt have the money to have a davis cup like tournament every year incorporating all the playing members.

  5. Ram
    July 25, 2006 at 8:04 pm

    Nasir,

    What I’m assuming is Bangladesh and Zimbabwe are weaker than Test A teams at the moment, NOT 6-7 years down the line..My point is why wait for Ban to become a strong nation in 6-7 years so that these Associates can then defeat them and gain the ticket to Test status?…What happens if say 2-3 years down the line Scotland/Ireland start defeating Bangladesh in 4-day games?..Should they wait for Ban to become strong because I don’t think they will get Test status then just because they defeated Ban whereas if they start defeating Test A teams in the next 3-4 years, they’ll definitely be a lot closer to Test status…Of course, U19 performances matter in the long term but it’s the senior team that has to ultimately show results for acquiring Test status.

    About Mal/PNG, I think they’ll be among the top 12 Associates in terms of most promising countries, which excludes expat-based teams like UAE/USA/Canada/Qatar or low population countries like Bermuda, Cayman Is. In an ideal situation, Bermuda/Cayman Is (or for that matter any country with low population) DON’T deserve to be identified as separate countries that get ICC funding and hence must be excluded from participating in ICC events as separate entities, they’ll clearly have to join their region’s Test team even if they’ve a very competitive team of their own, though this appears highly unlikely given the ICC’s stance..On the other hand, expat-based teams can be removed from top ICC events with the change in player eligibility rules you pointed out..

  6. July 28, 2006 at 3:01 am

    After doing a lot of thinking on this matter, I have come to the conclusion that it can only be possible to go ahead with the second division with 6 team, minus Bermuda and Canada. So the 6 teams in Div II would be Afghanistan, Nepal, UAE, Denmark, Namibia and Uganda.

    I was thinking that perhaps Ireland A or Scotland A would be good options for the 2 missing teams in Div II, but I think it would be too much for the associates to also field an A team for a year long calender.

  7. Azam Khan
    July 28, 2006 at 8:51 am

    Dear Nasir & Ram,

    I hope you are fine & having a great time. I am a regular reader of your comments & analysis on cricket, especially those which are about Afghanistan. It gives me pleasure to read as your comments are based on reality & are totally neutral. I can say that you are the two experts of cricket who are watching & following cricket in every corner of the world & your comments are very informative & interesting.
    I`d also like to give you some information about Afghanistan cricket & the players. Mohammad Nabi & Hamid Hassan performed very well in MCC matches. Hamid was the highest wicket taker in MCC squad in Holland( The Netherlads) & took 9 wickets in 4 matches, including 4 in a match. As Nabi`s performance was not of the level which we always expect from him. He had played 3 matches in Holland & scored 2, 39, and 19 runs respectively. Nabi is also an Off break bowler & had taken wickets in every match. He took 2 wickets in the the first match in which he made 2 runs.
    Nabi`s performance was outstanding when he was playing for MCC Young Cricketers back here in England. He scored a century (104*) Vs Sussex 2nd II for only 56 balls & won the match. In the last match he made 48 runs for only 20 balls & got out when only 2 runs were required to victory. Everone in the English counties & clubs were very impressed by these two young cricketers. Robin Marlar said that he`d have loved to sign Nabi for his county (Robin Marlar is the president of MCC as well as Sussex) but the rules stop him from doing so as there are already two foreign players (Mushtaq Ahmad & Rana Naveedul Hassan) playing for his county. Hamid also performed well here in UK while playing for MCC YC & took almost 2 wickets in each one of the matches which he played. He missed 1 match due to injury problems. Hamid was invited by a club in Manchester named Norden cricket club & played three matches fot the club in which he took (4/9, 8/23 & 3/31) wickets respectively. The first match was a twenty twent final in which he (Hamid) bowled 4 overs & took 4 wickets for 9 runs. He took 15 wickets in three matches & succeeded in his trial matches. The club is willing to sign him for the next season. Now both Nabi & Hamid have joined their team which will leave for ACC Trophy Malaysia in early next month.
    MCC has also talked to PCB (Shahryar Khan & Salim Altaf CEO) reg our team & players to play in Pakistan first class matches, etc. I was told by Robin Marlar.
    We pray for the success of our team in the up- coming ACC Trophy in Malaysia & our sights are on the World Cup 2011. We also pray for UAE & Oman to be our opponets in the final & we`ll have more chances for qualifying for World Cricket League Division 3 as they ( UAE & Oman) have alreday qualified for Division 2 of WCL 2007. We`ll have more chances in World Cricket League to qualify for World Cup Qualifier (Formerly known as ICC Trophy) otherwise we`ll have to wait until Acc Trophy 2009.

    Azam Khan

    Development Officer Afghanistan Cricket Federation.

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