I am jumping the gun, but the 2 semi finals have been decided in the ACC U19. It is Malaysia v Nepal, and Afghanista v UAE. The match ups are courtesy of Afghanistan’s upset victory over Malaysia on the opening day of the tournament.
Now lets say Afghanistan and Nepal make it to the finals, then Malaysia would still get qualification while one of the others would get left behind. While this is unfair, I am still ok with the fact that Malaysia being the hosts of the U19 WC should be featuring their team. What I am not ok with is that the fact that one of Nepal or Afghanistan may be left out, while Bermuda and PNG have made it through to the World Cup. I would think the standard difference is just too much in that case, and there should be a second shot for the losing ACC team by playing Bermuda or PNG.
Additionally, the funny thing is that Scotland will have a go at the qualifying ACC team. Why has that special consideration being made?
Malaysia U19 is quite strong…. they have only been beaten by Nepal in the finals of the ACC trophy in the last 5 years…… they have good infrastructure, good funding, good organization, good system, good facilities, and a good touring program. In that light, it was quite interesting to see Afghanistan U19 beat them, albiet by 4 wkts, in their recent match in the ACC Trophy U19 qualifiers. Afghanistan ofcourse, have unfortunately created a notorious reputation for fielding overage players, so hopefully they didnt do it this time, and the ACC had enough checks in the system to avoid what happened once before.
See, to me it does not make sense that we do not have a global league for the qualification of the U19 teams. PNG and Bermuda should, in my opinion, not have gotten entry into the world cup just because they belong to different regions. It is better for everyone involved if the 6 best teams represent the associates, rather than 6 from the regions. We could have had a 10 team global league to select the final 6 for the World Cup (or final 5 now that the host has automatic entry). In my opinion, Uganda, Namibia, Bermuda, PNG, Afghanistan, Nepal, Malaysia, Ireland, Scotland…. and one other country (either Canada or Kenya) should have battled to find out the best 6 to go through….. that tournament would have also helped in understanding the U19 stature of the associates a lot better than the regional set up right now……
As the ACC Trophy has progressed….. it has looked more and more that Afghanistan is playing the wrong league….. today, in the semi final of the tournament, they have Hong Kong at 129/8, and I would be surprised if they dont chase it down for the loss of 3-4 wickets or less in 25 overs……..
It looks like a UAE v Afghanistan final is imminent…… if Afghanistan repeat their performances against other expat based countries, they will probably knock over UAE, and then a very interesting World League will be in the offing.
Nepal I feel bad for, but they should not have done what they did today….. infact, Bahrain ran them pretty close as well…… they HAVE the talent, like the U19 WC showed….. their same players can perform much better than this, but its a matter of getting more and more tours organized for them against superior opposition….. India, Pakistan, Srilanka, Bangladesh Academies, A teams or domestic teams are always available and Nepal can organize tours with them to improve their standard further…..
If Afghanistan loses to UAE however, then Nepal will have another point of contention, about the format of the trophy by itself……
This was a very impressive tour by Afghanistan. I think that they considered Ditchlings CC to be a very weak opposition, hence they may have rested their best players in the process, but still managed to beat them by 95 runs in a 40 over game.
Their best performances were against the county 2nd XIs, to which the likes of Bermuda lose easily. Leicestershire and Essex 2nd XIs were not weak teams, especially Essex who even had Grant Flower playing in that team, with 8 of their players having first class experience.
What these performances should technically do is to get 1-2 of the Afghan players county contracts. And the process should start from there. But Afghanistan is overall a war torn country, and they lack basic infrastructure, so there will be no countries in the neat future which are going ot undertake a tour to Kabul to play them. As far as invitations are concerned, well, I think it will stay at the level of this tour, perhaps next time the counties would want to play them with first XI teams to warm up.
There are 2 things that should happen from here. Afghanistan should get invitations from the associate countries to play them. For example, it would have been better if Kenya would have invited them over to Nairobi to play against Kenya A, instead of sending Kenya A to Denmark to play club sides. It would have been much much cheaper as well, plus I think Afghanistan would be better opposition than Danish clubs to raise the standard of the Kenyan A team. But because ICCs funding is based on the standing of the team, teams like Bermuda may not want to play Afghanistan, lest they get beaten and invite more criciticism.
The second thing is that Pakistan should step up and hire the Afghan team, 16 players, as a domestic team. Realistically thats the only way I see Afghanistan moving forward. PCB can do this as a means to developing the game and helping out a cricketing neighbour, and who whos, the Afghans may start giving a run for the money to the Pakistan domestic teams.
I was unable to find the scorecard, but the Afghan victory has been confirmed. Afghanistan has managed to win both of their games against second XI opposition by a whisker, but the point is that they won, whereas you have other teams like Bermuda that get thrashed by second XI teams. But I still dont know how Afghanistan ranks with the big associates. We may be stepping out of the box here in saying that they are much better than Scotland, Holland or Ireland, Kenya. But I guess we will never know because there is nothing that is going to be done by the ICC to better benchmark the teams. All that the ICC is likely to do for their grand expansion of cricket is to give more and more assistence to Bermuda !
Nothing else is available at the momment except for the following information:
Essex 2nd XI 238-9 off 40 overs (Will Jefferson 65, Graham Napier 96)
Afghanistan 242-9 off 39.2 overs (Napier 3-24)
Afghanistan won by one wicket
Now please someone explain to me, what is wrong with the ICC structure that the team that loses to English 2nd XI counties, Bermuda, is playing the world cup and has ODI status, while the country that is beating them is probably not even going to qualify for the WCQS Div III this year !!! ICC needs to organize some benchmarking tournaments to first see accurately what is going on in the 10-15 strongest associates below test level.
I havent found the scorecard of this match yet. But here are the vital stats: Afgahnistan beat RMA by 7 wkts, with 20 overs to spare in this 40 over game. Nabi took 4-22, but was not called out to bat, I guess he wasnt required because RMA made only 129 runs.
I will update this very post once I can see the scorecard somewhere.
So with the clubs out of the way and not posing any problems for Afghanistan, we are on to the games that really matter, against the 3 second XI teams from the cricketing counties.