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News: The WI rugby team….

There is now a west indies rugby team. This article is very interesting, and it talks about a lot of the issues that we keep on talking about regarding small countries. That is not the only reason why I am posting it here. What I found interesting is that Bermuda, Bahamas and the Cayman Islands have joined in this WI Rugby team, while all three choose to play as seperate countries in cricket.

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Categories: Cricket Development
  1. Chris
    December 9, 2007 at 1:33 am

    There is actually a West Indies Rugby Union team and a West Indies Rugby League team, can’t remember any more details about them though (but there are individual teams from the West Indies in Rugby union and Rugby league such as Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago and Bahamas)

    There are actually a number of conglomerates other than the West Indies and Irish cricket teams. In other sports you have the conglomerate Irish rugby teams (union and league), the Pacific Islanders rugby union team (kind of separate from the individual teams and for overseas tours from what I gather), the Arabian Gulf rugby union team (with the UAE, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait – although Qatar might be separating), the conglomerate Irish baseball team, the Eastern Caribbean (OECS) squash team and the Europe team in Ryder Cup golf. There were East African, East and Central African and West African cricket teams (and if Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi do actually unify into one country called East Africa as they apparently plan to do by 2010 then there may be a second East African cricket team). There was a unified Korean team for table tennis in 1991 and a United Germany Team for 3 Summer Olympics in 1956, 1960 and 1964 and a CIS team (Unified team) for the 1992 Winter and Summer Olympics. It is only in football that there are no conglomerate teams and even then until 1921 there was an all-Irish football team (even though Ireland had been partitioned in 1920) and around 1959 there was a West Indies football team (although at the time the West Indies was actually unified as a single country/dependency of the UK). Whether or not conglomerate teams are permanent or transitory (like West Africa or the CIS), I think they should be allowed if certain countries want them and actually have enough commonality and feel close enough to warrant it. If it becomes permanent, then so what? It would be their choice. If it is only a transitory measure to aid in development (by saving money and spending it more wisely on development) then that can only be a good thing because in the end the teams that come out of it should hopefully have all attained a level of development at a faster rate than they would have individually.

    As an example of how dismal some small teams can be even in football just check out this link (which I found from just scanning around the same website by the way): http://www.caribbeannetnews.com/sports/sports.php?news_id=4105&start=60&category_id=8
    In sum, football in American Samoa seems more like a waste of money than cricket in Zimbabwe today. At least in Zimbabwe they have numbers still, despite a large percentage of the population fleeing the harsh economic situation and going to South Africa. In American Samoa (ranked 200th along with many others), they could only find a 17-year old high school boy to fill in for the national SENIOR team’s goalkeeper in a match against the Solomon Islands! (They lost 12-1 by the way). They also lost 31-0 against Australia in 2002. That’s a rugby score, not a football score and if Australia made 31 goals in 90 minutes with 11 players it means Australia was making a goal every 3 minutes and every Aussie footballer (including the goalkeeper) could have scored 2-3 goals. The referee could have scored a goal and it wouldn’t have a made a real difference. No wonder Australia wished to be transferred from the Pacific to Asia in the FIFA regions. They would dominate the Pacific region and then lose out on qualifications to get the 0.5 space allocated to the Pacific in a play-off with an Asian qualifying team. Better to qualify in Asia than go through that merry-go-round. A big problem for American Samoa was that “none of their USA-based college players were available for playing in the tournaments”, but in a place like American Samoa that is going to be a perpetually problem (and one that I think will be mirrored in the Cook Islands with regards to cricket) and so they will be perpetually hindered because their school based players go to college in the USA, can’t play and probably don’t come back.

  2. Tom Mather
    December 9, 2007 at 4:50 am

    I don’t know for sure if grouping small islands/countries together is frowned on, but it makes sense in improving performance for the combined team. Jersey/Guernsey would perhaps have twice as good a team and stand a much better chance of rising in the WCL. But then only half the number of players would be able to represent them. And presumably they’d only get one lot of money instead of two. Probably the main reason for not doing so is losing your identity as a nation.

    However that hasn’t stopped Wales being an invisible partner with England. They would walk into one day status if they decided to split. But especially with Cardiff now holding tests, the financial implications would be huge. As someone who is half Welsh, I’d still like to see it happen.

  3. December 9, 2007 at 5:00 am

    Bermuda as an ODI team has only been able to go up to a certain level. As a first class team for WI, their players can probably do better, cant they? Plus a good Bermudan player can actually get a chance to play test/ODI cricket. As things stand now, I would be very surprised if Bermuda qualify for ODI status again in 2009, so it is back to the wilderness. The process is not the problem, it is the fact that they put all their resources into it to the point that there was nothing else that they could do, and still ended up in this situation.

    Wales is not a good example. It is a country bigger than Namibia and NZ. It should not be sufferring from the small country development issues.

  4. December 9, 2007 at 6:33 am

    Is Wales really bigger then Namibia? check your world map again, Namibia is a pretty decnt sized country as most countries go although it is strange Wales do not have their own unique cricket team

  5. December 9, 2007 at 7:06 am

    Wales has a bigger population than Namibia, which I assume is what Nasir was referring to.

    Wales don’t have their own unique cricket team because their cricket is much more integrated with England than Scotland and Ireland ever were. It would be a very messy divorce, and would be highly unlikely to happen. Plus, as Tom says, the financial loss Welsh cricket would take makes it pretty much un-viable, though there is a campaign amongst some cricket fans in Wales, and the idea has attracted political (though slightly ignorant of cricket) support.

    There are also political reasons why Wales is so bound up with England, not least because up until 1999, Wales was legally part of England. It’s only since the 1950s that the concept of a separate Welsh nation emerged, and political parties campaigning for an independent Wales only started getting elected in the mid 1960s.

  6. December 9, 2007 at 3:09 pm

    Chris, the likelihood of the East African countries forming into one joint one by 2050 let alone 2010 is about as likely as Australia ceding governance to New Zealand. Regards cricket development it would be a big step backwards for countries that are improving pretty quickly as well.

  7. December 9, 2007 at 3:45 pm

    Chris…..
    Actually, do you have sources for the statement that there is an East Africa state on the cards? I know that there is an East African Economic Coorporperation block…… but thats something else.

    Please share a link of the source…..

  8. Chris
    December 9, 2007 at 11:01 pm

    Well, this is where I like to look at factors outside of cricket to see what influence they might have on cricket itself (just as various non-cricketing factors also influenced Welsh cricket as Andrew outlined earlier).

    Now for the links, I can give you tons. Just google “East African federation” and ignore any discussions about the 1960s attempt. However, these are the best links:
    http://www.eac.int/ – the East African Community’s website
    http://www.eac.int/news_Kiraso_Article-PF.htm – an article on the EAC’s website by its Deputy Secretary General which references the moves towards political federation
    http://www.eac.int/fasttrack/committeeo.htm – about the committee to fast track an East African Federation
    http://www.eac.int/about_eac.htm – this has more on the aims (with the due date adjusted to more realistic terms with a political federation after 2012 instead of 2010 and according to wikipedia now (look up “East African Federation”) it is due before 2020)

    Using the google search of “East African Federation”, on the first two pages alone you will see some info about it and some opposition to the idea. Here is one them:
    http://www.iss.co.za/AF/RegOrg/unity_to_union/pdfs/eac/sumexo3pr.pdf

    The original timetable (as found in this link: http://www.sundayvision.co.ug/detail.php?mainNewsCategoryId=7&newsCategoryId=123&newsId=402452) did plan for a federation around 2010 with a rotating presidency until 2013. As that was planned in 2004, it is no surprise deadlines have been pushed back, but the important point is that they haven’t been abandoned. So if the new timetable sticks (or if the old one is fast tracked) we could see an East Africa team for the 2011 CWC, 2015 CWC or the 2019 CWC (with increasing likelyhood for each later world cup).

    Nick, do you just write for cricketkenya from outside of kenya or do you live in kenya as well? As I thought that if your site was cricketkenya and you lived in kenya you could have provided more insight into this. I know opinions on it are varied, but the various East African leaders have publicly committed themselves to it, which is far more than anything being done in Europe.

    Even if they don’t form a federation it seems at the very least that there will be free movement among the members of the East African Community which could mean that at least a few budding Rwandan, Tanzanian and Ugandan cricketers might move to Kenya and eventually take up Kenyan citizenship if they want to take their game higher.

    Unsurprisingly of course, I have seen no discussion on the web pertaining to the effect any future East African federation will have on cricket or football in the region since non-sport factors are rarely taken into account.

  9. farhan
    December 10, 2007 at 1:42 pm

    east african countries unify into one interesting?is any kenyan can answer about it? chris u r from?
    well they will get financial bensfits for sure if thats going to happen why they dont puta combine east african team from now?

  10. December 10, 2007 at 2:33 pm

    I think the combined East Africa federation is just either a talk, or a thought process right now. Nothing concrete.

    In any case, none of Tanzania, Uganda or Kenya need to combine to be able to improve. They have enough funds, and at least uganda has at least enough playing numbers to move forward. They do not suffer from thie “small country development issue” that the Pacific Islands, or the West indian Islands suffer from.

  11. Edwin Mkenya
    December 11, 2007 at 4:43 am

    The ugandans can qualify to play in the kenya A team and if they have discipine issues(as usual) we should put some tanzanians in there.

  12. Chris
    December 11, 2007 at 9:38 pm

    Nasir, I agree that none of the East African countries need to combine to improve, but the move to a federation amongst them is a bit more than just talk and thoughts. They have all signed up to it in a treaty by being members of their economic-political grouping, the East African Community. I don’t say it will definitely happen since one or more (or even all) of the countries might have second thoughts later, but it might be something worth watching (although not too intently for now) since if their planned federation does come about it would have effects on cricket (and football) in all those countries.

    One of the reasons I brought this up is related to the misconceptions that float around the internet and amongst cricket commentators with regards to countries like Bangladesh (which some call minnows). Over at the cricinfo beyond the test world blog, one poster had compared Kenya and Bangladesh and used Bangladesh as an example that the ICC should replicate elsewhere. Of course, that comparison between Kenya and Bangladesh was flawed because the poster was forgetting something: their non-sport history and how it relates to sport. Kenya was a British colony until the 1960s and cricket was played there after being introduced by the British. When Kenya became independent, Bangladesh was still a part of Pakistan which had begun playing test matches in 1952. And before that, Bangladesh and Pakistan were a part of India from the time cricket was introduced in the subcontinent (in the 1700s) until 1947. Note that during that time India became a Test playing nation in 1932. So if we compare Kenya and Bangladesh now we see that cricket was being run in what is now Bangladesh by the BCCI (from 1929 until 1947 and with Test status from 1932 onwards) and then the BCCP/Pakistan Cricket Board (from 1949 until 1971 and with Test status from 1952 onwards) and now finally by the BCCB/Bangladesh Cricket Board (from 1971 onwards with Test status from 2000). There have been 3 periods of cricket administration by a Test capped board in Bangladesh: 1932-1947 (15 years), 1952-1971 (19 years) and 2000-present (7 years) totalling 41 years. And while no Test matches were played in Bangladesh/eastern Bengal under the BCCI (as far as I know anyway) the fact is that during the time of the BCCI (1929-1947) eastern Bengalis had the opportunity to qualify for a national Test team (unlike Kenyans at the time). East Pakistanis/eastern Bengalis/Bangladeshis could also qualify (and some undoubtedly did qualify) for a national Test team under the BCCP/PCB from 1952-1971. The first test match played in what is now Bangladesh wasn’t played in 2000, but in 1955 (Pakistan v. India) and Test matches were played in East Pakistan/Bangladesh from 1955 right up until 1971. Thus when Bangladesh was formed in 1971 and later joined the ICC in the late 1970s it must have been the only non-Test member of the ICC that actually had a history of Test matches and actually had Test-quality venues before actually gaining a Test cap. Looking at it from a historical perspective, over the past 75 years cricketers from Bangladesh had the opportunity to qualify for a Test team for 41 of those 75 years.
    By contrast, Kenya’s international cricketing history starts in 1951 against Uganda and Tanganyika/Tanzania (although domestic cricket started before that, but unlike Bangladesh, cricket could not have been introduced into Kenya before the late 1880s and early 1890s – more than 150 years after it was introduced on the Indian subcontinent).

    So the fact that Bangladesh has achieved more than Kenya is to be expected…in fact, had Bangladesh not made these achievements it would be very bad indictment against Bangladesh, since prior to 2000 it already had a Test history and Test facilities and a fan base that was already very comfortable with Test matches. Kenya had none of these and still doesn’t. A slightly fairer comparison would have been between Kenya and Sri Lanka, although in Sri Lanka cricket had a nearly 100 year head-start on Kenya having been introduced by at least 1800 (the fact that the England and Australian teams used to stop over in Ceylon/Sri Lanka every time on their way to play each other for the Ashes must have also helped Ceylonese/Sri Lankan cricket in a way that Kenya could never replicate).

    I have also seen comments such as “Asia breeds test nations” which I would have to disagree with, unless the terms “breeds” includes the splitting of test nations. As it stands, Asia has 4 of the 10 test countries, but of these 2 were formed from the break-up/partition of a previous test country. That isn’t actually expansion because all that has happened is that one cricketing fan/population base (or “market”) has been split into two or more and the old fans are still around but with a new nationality. I don’t say that Pakistan and Bangladesh shouldn’t be independent, but anyone who thinks that Pakistan and Bangladesh represent a region that just churns out test countries is ignoring history. It would be like having the USA split into 50 countries and then say that baseball has “expanded” to 49 more countries.

  13. Rich B
    December 13, 2007 at 4:36 am

    Chris, you’re right that cricket’s development figures over the last century are not encouraging. You’re also right about Bangladesh having been part of a test nation before – cricket has pretty much always been played there in an organised way.

    But the reason Bangladesh is a test nation now stems mainly from the cricket mania which hit India and Pakistan in the 1980’s, at which point the game became a national obsession. As far as I see it this had a knock-on affect in Bangladesh in the 1990’s, and it was this newfound popularity which was the main reason for their elevation. The enthusiasm has spread further, at least to Afghanistan and Nepal, which both seem to have a positive future in the game, and all over the world through Pakistani and Indian expats. They’re hardly churning out test nations but their contribution can’t be overlooked.

  14. Chris
    December 13, 2007 at 10:11 am

    Rich B I agree that many other factors are involved in Bangladesh’s attainment of test status. I didn’t know much about the cricket mania in India and Pakistan in the 80s (I do know that cricket wasn’t the most popular game at first, but I didn’t know when it became the most popular game there). I suspect as you do that the cricket mania in India and Pakistan had a knock on effect in Bangladesh. I also suspect however that the combination of enthusiasm and infrastructure/organization (courtesy of Bangladesh having had its cricket organized by two previous test administrations) is what allowed Bangladesh to become a test country as when it did.
    And speaking of the knock-on effect, would that be the reason for cricket taking off in Sri Lanka as well? and Rhodesia/Zimbabwe (from South Africa)? I ask because Sri Lanka became a test country around the 1980s – 33 years after its independence, Bangladesh did so 29 years after its independence (after having caught the cricket-fever in the 80s and 90s) and Zimbabwe did so 11 years after its official independence and 27 years after Rhodesia’s UDI.

    I certainly wouldn’t overlook the significant contribution of South Asia to cricket development, but I was noting that at times their contribution is misrepresented or overblown. Afghanistan and Nepal are both on their way up hopefully and the fact that cricket is now popular in both is due in large part to India and Pakistan. Hmmmm….one thing I’ve just noticed now is that ever since India became a test country in 1932 all other test countries have either arisen out of a current/previous test country (Pakistan, Bangladesh) or have been located extremely close to current test countries (Pakistan and Bangladesh again + Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe). And of all the really promising associates and affiliates that are usually favourites or cause a stir (Kenya, Ireland, Scotland, Netherlands, Namibia, Afghanistan, Nepal, UAE, Oman, USA and Canada) most are near current test countries. Perhaps if the full member countries found ways to incorporate their neighbouring associates and affiliates in some of their domestic competitions and international tours (e.g. warm-up or exhibition matches or post tour matches in and against Namibia for a team touring South Africa) then it might help cricket development in those places. It would certainly be a cheaper and more easily organized option than trying to make even more tournaments for associates and affiliates (although I think tournaments amongst associates and affiliates are absolutely essential and shouldn’t be decreased).

  15. Chris
    December 30, 2007 at 10:03 pm

    Came up with something interesting today and figured this is the best topic to post it under (now for those willing to read the entire post, they’ll find some very interesting data):

    I know there has been discussion over population size and its contribution to a team’s performance. Of course, its been mainly vague and approximations since there is no central site that has a comprehensive ranking of all international cricket teams as well as the playing numbers for all those countries and the total population for those countries. I have however, come up with those figures for rugby union using the IRB’s website (it has rankings and the number of registered players in each country) and wikipedia (for the country population data). Although these figures would be for rugby union the principles and factors behind them (or that result from them) should hold true for any sport. So here’s the list (although I don’t know if anyone will even give this post much notice since it’s going to be long):

    Country Rank Players Pop. Player%
    S. Africa 1 464,477 47.9m 0.969
    New Zealand 2 141,726 4.2m 3.343
    Argentina 3 ——-no data——-
    England 4 716,505 50.7m 1.412
    Australia 5 66,395 21.15m 0.314
    France 6 212,059 64.1m 0.331
    Ireland 7 100,974 6.05m 1.669
    Scotland 8 24,905 5.12m 0.487
    Fiji 9 45,300 853,445 5.308
    Wales 10 42,000 2.96m 1.420
    Italy 11 45,376 59.2m 0.077
    Samoa 12 21,995 214,265 10.265
    Tonga 13 10,236 112,000 9.139
    Canada 14 13,804 33.14m 0.042
    Romania 15 7,150 22.27m 0.032
    Georgia 16 2,866 4.66m 0.061
    Russia 17 13,020 142.2m 0.0092
    Japan 18 126,124 127.4m 0.099
    USA 19 63,254 303m 0.021
    Uruguay 20 5,145 3.4m 0.151
    Spain 21 17,637 45.1m 0.039
    Portugal 22 4,286 10.8m 0.0395
    S. Korea 23 3,150 49m 0.0064
    Chile 24 16,658 16.6m 0.1003
    Namibia 25 10,928 2.031m 0.538

    Player% is the percentage of the total population (Pop.) that are registered players.

    What I’ve noticed from this is that no team in the top 10 has less than 20,000 registered players (excepting maybe Argentina for which no data was given for registered players). Neither does any team in the top 10 have less than 0.3% of its population being registered players. This percentage means little of course unless taken in the context of the total population (since 0.3% of the population of Fiji would have been 2,560 people which could still conceivable field a competitive team like Georgia’s), but in all of those countries rugby union is fairly well known or popular (thus the figure of 0.3% might indicate the percent of the population needed for a game to become truly widespread in a country).

    Now population and playing numbers aren’t everything otherwise England would be #1 and Russia (with 120,000+ players) would be the number #5 team in the world, but population does seem to be one of the factors (alongside funding, training, talent and public interest which might well explain places like Russia, England, France and the USA). From the table, it can be seen that South Africa has more registered players than the total population of Samoa and Tonga combined and in that sense none of these Pacific nations could ever be on par with South Africa since South Africa will always have a larger pool of players to choose from. However, some of the more striking figures come from Fiji, Samoa and Tonga where between 5-10% of the total population are registered players. This might compensate for a smaller population base by allowing more talent to be turned up (since a greater proportion of the population is actually playing and could be selected for the national team). If South Africa had 5% of its total population being registered players it would have 2.4 million people to choose from for eventual national selection and would doubtlessly produce almost invincible teams (men’s and women’s).

    One other thing that these figures say about Fiji, Samoa and Tonga is that rugby union is THE dominant sport in those countries. These three also play rugby league (Fiji has 500 registered players according to the RLIF, Samoa has 600 and Tonga has over 1,000) very competitively, but then rugby league pales in comparison to rugby union in terms of global playing numbers and appeal, so even these small figures would produce relatively competitive teams. Considering that registered players are usually backed by a fairly sizeable fan base, it doesn’t seem completely impossible that around 20-30% (or maybe even 50%) of the population in each of the Pacific countries are avid rugby union followers. This doesn’t seem to bode well for other sports such as football, rugby league and cricket since a sizeable portion of the athletically capable population is already very interested in rugby union (people can play more than one sport of course, but the a good number don’t). It also probably means that these countries cannot adequately support other sports financially – I can’t imagine that the portion of the population in each country that actually follows sports is going to be willing to pay to go to matches for more than 2 main sports since these countries aren’t very rich and people are only willing to pay so much to watch any given sport.

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