Home > Cricket Development > More on the fantasy East Africa test team ….

More on the fantasy East Africa test team ….

I delved into the logic and reasoning for having a composite East Africa test team in one of my previous posts here. I have organized my thoughts and have come up with the following theory, that should be workable.

1) The East Africa team will only comprise of the following countries: Zimbabwe, Kenya, Namibia, Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia, Mozambique, Rwanda, Botswana and Malawi. Though Namibia and Botswana are historically not part of the geographic East Africa, it makes sense to include them as well.
2) Only those players will be eligible who by the age of 20, have lived 75% of their life in one of the qualifying countries above. Even if a player is a citizen, but does not satisfy this residency criteria, he will not be eligible. The qualification requirements for the individual countries can be whatever the ICC rules are today.
3)  The East Africa team will not be eligible to play T20. They will only be allowed to play Test and ODI. If a test country, say West Indies, is touring East Africa, then they can play a couple of T20 each against Zimbabwe, Kenya, Namibia etc. East africa board can hold a yearly T20 tournament between member countries, and finalists can be the ones that get 2 T20s each against touring opposition, while the 3rd placed team will get only 1. This can be done for the entire year until the next local T20 championship.
4) It is possible to invite individual countries separately for a tour or a series. Although, realistically, it looks unlikely that someone will invite Kenya seperately unless the Composite team becomes a world beater.  The forced tours through FTP will only be for East Africa.
5) There would be a contracted squad of 25 for East Africa. It would not be possible to have more than 6 players from a certain country in that squad of 25. There would be no minimums, so it is completely possible that only 4 countries would be representated in the East Africa team if players from other countries do not have a high enough standard.
6) For the selection of the final XI, there is no quota, and all 6 from a particular country can feature in there if they are the amongst the best 11.
7) The headquarters for East Africa team would be in Kenya, and all the players would be required to relocate to Kenya so that the team can practise together. There will be a 3-4 month off season for the East Africa team when they can go back to their home countries.
8 ) East Africa team CANNOT compete in any global tournament like World Cricket League, World Cup, T20 championships etc. Only individual countries can participate there.  All the players who play for East Africa will also be eligible to play for their country. In fact, the East Africa team’s calendar will be made to incorporate global tournament schedules in them i.e. no East Africa tour when there is a World Cricket league 1,2 or 3 going on etc.
9) Countries that have a top 10 standing below test level will be able to play first class cricket between them. e.g. if the rankings from today are taken, then East Africa will feature 4 first class team i.e. Zimbabwe, Kenya, Uganda and Namibia. Apart from first class, East Africa board can hold yearly 50 over tournament including all 10 member countries.

The following are the benefits of this approach
1) Aggregation of talent is going to improve the standard of the team. Hence making it more marketable for existing test countries to host them. This will lead to more playing oppurtunities for the players at the highest level. The regular oppurtunity to play test cricket will provide the high class opposition to these players to realize their full potential. While it is true that seperately these countries dont have test level team’s or infrastructures, it is quite possible for them to produce 1-2 world class players individually (e.g. Tikolo, Odoyo, Odumbe, Taibu, Taylor, Price etc)
2) With at least 3-4 test players in the individual country’s team, the marketability for that country’s team will increase. Lets say Kenya has 4 test players (and they are successful test players) , there will be no more voices about not including them in a world cup if they qualify. And they should qualify with 4 test players!
3) The chances for an individual country winning a game will increase drastically with 3-4 world class players. This will provide true following for the team in the home country. Drubbing is not exactly something that young kids look forward to. This will lead to increased participation numbers at junior levels.
4) A talented player in Kenya, Namibia, Zimbabwe or Uganda will be able to have a goal of working hard to attain the highest achievements in Cricket. They can play test cricket, they can become professional players, they can get fame, they can get the stage to show their talent. Right now, only 9 countries can play tests, other just cannot. Now the ICC is likely to even take away the world cup participation from the associates. IPL etc rely more on the marketability of the player, which comes from playing international cricket. So why exactly should a kid play cricket and work hard at improving his game in associate countries? Just for fun doesn’t exactly cut it anymore.
5) It can give the ICC a better mechanism to elevate a country to test status. If while being part of East Africa team, Zimbabwe players are dominating the numbers and performances, and the East African team is also a world beater, then it might be time for the ICC to extract Zimbabwe out of the East African team and give them full status on their own. The rest of Zimbabwe team can be built around the nucleus of the players taken out from East Africa team, and there would be no need to the 15 year break in period that is needed today to bridge the gap.

The following are some of the commonly cited disadvantages
1) East Africa team wont be getting any government help which many countries can get independently.
Not sure what kind of government help they get right now. But in any case, the national teams are still there. They would still be playing T20s and other tournaments.
2) It might not be possible to attract sponsorships like the country can individually.
It depends upon (3). Additionally, the flip side of the coin is that they might even be able to get a better sponsorship. Lots of businesses target East African region as a whole.
3) The team might not get the nationalistic following that the teams can get individually.
This remains to be seen. East Africa can be promoted like you would promote a franchise. The fact that you have some representation in the team should get the public to follow the team. I cannot imagine that if a kid who plays cricket is willing to follow the Namibia cricket team in WC 2003, would not follow 3-4 Namibian players in the East Africa team if it is playing at the highest level, and being a LOT more competitive, possiblly even winning games.

The same mechanism can be applied to North Europe (Ireland, Scotland, Netherlands, Denmark, Italy, Belgium, Jersey, Norway, Guernsey). This North Europe team is likely to be much stronger than East Africa actually. The third team where this same model can be applied is Pacific Islands (Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Vanuatu, Samoa, Tonga, Cook Islands). However, until multiple Pacific Island countries can get a standing in the top 10 associates through WCL, it would be premature to create Pacific Islands team.

A quick note in the end for all those who are thinking that composite team’s are unnatural and nonsense, please remember that we have been watching West Indies (a composite team of 22 countries) for 80 years, and that there is also there is no England team in reality, it should be called “England and Wales” 🙂

Categories: Cricket Development
  1. ray
    February 23, 2011 at 6:20 am

    Good to see your blog back again. I’m always glad to see more discussion of Associate cricket.

    I think “Arabia” might be another interesting and useful aggregation for cricket in that part of the world. Comprised of UAE, Oman, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and possibly others, such an entity should encourage “native” cricketers instead of ex-pats from from South Asia. It might give cricket the boost it needs to rival soccer as a regional sport.

    Regardless of whether the ICC ever recognized the Arabian Cricket team, it might serve the countries well to pool their resources, train together and field a collective team in unofficial matches against Full Member “A” squads.

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