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Laurie Peters, Namibia’s chief executive, has called the ICC’s decision to restructure the Intercontinental Cup as “disappointing” and said that it will have a negative affect on cricket in the country.
Last month, Namibia finished eighth in the ICC World Cup Qualifiers which should have been enough to secure them a place in the 2009-10 Intercontinental Cup. But at an ICC development committee meeting earlier this week, the competition was restructured and Namibia, who finished runners-up in the 2007-08 event, were demoted to a four-team second division known as the Intercontinental Shield. A further blow was that the ICC ruled out any promotion or relegation between the divisions.
“It’s disappointing, and I not only see this as a Namibia issue but a development one in its entirety,” Peters told Cricinfo. “The ICC are all excited that there are now ten [Associate] countries competing against eight previously. One has to ask is this an extension of the competition … what competition? The four countries competing in the Shield will have three matches each and not even the incentive of a promotion-relegation match.
“Previously, eight countries participated. Should Zimbabwe decide to compete why not then have six in the Cup, and five in the Shield, with the opportunity at least one more game plus a promotion/relegation match.
“It’s important that the top Associate countries compete against the Full Members to prove that there is improvement and progress. However, the fact [Zimbabwe are] brought in the Intercontinental Cup at the expense of an Associate is very disappointing and sad for development.”
Peters was also worried that much of the development work inside Namibia would be undermined. “This will have its repercussions. The previous Intercontinental Cup raised a great amount of awareness, excitement and interest in our country. The final of the Intercontinental Cup had flashes and updates on four radio stations every five minutes. Suddenly cricket had a following amongst the local people that was there never before.”
He was also worried that there would be much less cricket for the national team against lower-profile opponents. In 2007-08 Namibia played seven Intercontinental Cup group games plus a final. This time round, they will have three matches against Bermuda, Uganda and UAE, with the possibility that only one will be at home.
“[It does] nothing to raise awareness and interest and serve the development of cricket,” Peters said. “This is a backward step in itself. Our sponsors have been wonderful over the past years but it will have be ‘wait and see’ as to the effect on our sponsorship.”
Martin Williamson is executive editor of ESPNcricinfo and managing editor of ESPN Digital Media in Europe, the Middle East and AfricaFeeds: Martin Williamson
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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Executive editor Martin Williamson joined the Wisden website in its planning stages in 2001 after failing to make his millions in the internet boom when managing editor of Sportal. Before that he was in charge of Sky Sports Online and helped launch and run Sky News Online. With a preference for all things old (except his wife and children), he has recently confounded colleagues by displaying an uncharacteristic fondness for Twenty20 cricket. His enthusiasm for the game is sadly not matched by his ability, but he remains convinced that he might be a late developer and perseveres in the hope of an England call-up with his middle-order batting and non-spinning offbreaks. He is now managing editor of ESPN EMEA Digital Group as well as his Cricinfo responsibilities.