"World Cricket League is perfect platform to launch Cricket World Cup campaign" says ICC High Performance Manager
Sun, Jan 28, 2007 12:00 AM
"Being competitive at Cricket World Cup will give Associates credibility at elite level; key driver to help strong sport grow stronger," adds Done "Hosting event shows Kenyan cricket is back on track," says proud CK Chairman Samir Inamdar
The ICC World Cricket League Division 1 (WCL Div. 1) was officially opened in Nairobi this evening with the cream of Associate cricket about to face off ahead of the ICC Cricket World Cup (CWC) 2007 in the West Indies.
Bermuda, Canada, Ireland, Kenya, the Netherlands and Scotland will go head-to-head in 16 ODIs spread over three venues in Kenya's capital city over the next 10 days with the event culminating in a final on 7 February. Speaking at the opening ceremony in Parklands Sports Club in Nairobi, ICC's High Performance Manager Richard Done said this event was a great chance for players and coaches to make their final preparations for the CWC in a competitive environment.
"This tournament is an end it itself as it will provide silverware and bragging rights to the top Associate side," said Mr Done. "But of far greater importance is the fact that the World Cricket League is a key stepping stone towards the main prize, the ICC Cricket World Cup, for each of these six teams. "It will provide the perfect platform which the players can build on once they arrive in the Caribbean in a month and, with that platform, they will be well equipped to be competitive. "That ability to compete at the next level up is crucial to giving the Associate game the credibility it needs to flourish on a long-term basis.
"Only with the credibility that comes from the desire of players to compete at the highest level possible can we hope to make our strong sport even stronger from top to bottom as it is the only way we can encourage fans, sponsors and Full Members to give us the support required," he added. Mr Done highlighted the progress that has already been made towards this goal when he said: "As part of our commitment to close the gap between Associates and Full Members we have made sure these teams are now playing much more meaningful cricket than ever before.
"Between the World Cup in 2003 and the end of 2005, there were 11 ODIs involving Associate Members. In 2006 and through to the start of the World Cup, they will have played another 62 ODIs, including 17 against Full Members. "For the first time, all six countries have had full-time national coaches in place for at least 12 months leading into the World Cup. This is a key factor in improving playing stardards," he said. Mr Done also pointed out that initiatives such as the WCL as well as the ICC Intercontinental Cup, ICC Winter Training Camp and other programs are assisting the respective home cricket boards in their efforts to improve the quality of cricket being played throughout the ICC's 97 members.
Also speaking at the opening ceremony was chairman of Cricket Kenya and ICC Executive Board member Samir Inamdar, who said it was a proud time for Kenyan cricket. "We are delighted and honoured to have been chosen to host the inaugural ICC World Cricket League and I would like to extend a warm welcome to all participating teams," said Mr Inamdar. "This tournament is a sign that cricket in this country is back on track and we are confident that we will put on a very enjoyable tournament. Cricket Kenya and the local organising committee here in Nairobi have been working hard to make sure it is a success," he said.
The tournament gets under way tomorrow (Monday) when host team Kenya takes on Bermuda at Jaffery Sports Club in the city. On Tuesday, Ireland takes on Scotland at Gymkhana Cricket Club while Canada and the Netherlands go head to head at Ruaraka Cricket Club. All matches in the WCL Div. 1 start at 9.30am local time. The WCL Div. 1 involves the top six Associate teams. As the six teams in this competition have all qualified for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2007, the WCL Div. 1 is being used as part of their preparations for the event, which opens in Jamaica on 11 March.
But the WCL is about much more than that. Firstly, all games in the tournament carry ODI status so players are competing for their place in the historical analysis of top level one-day cricket. And secondly, the top two teams from this year's WCL will qualify for the inaugural ICC Twenty20 World Championships, which is scheduled for South Africa in September. The participation fee for playing in the Twenty20 is US$ 250,000 so there is a lot at stake, in more ways than one.