September 7, 2009


Sierra Leone's World Cup dream shattered

Martin Williamson

Sierra Leone’s flickering hopes of taking part in the Under-19 World Cup were finally ended when they failed to arrive in Canada before the expiry of the ICC’s September 5 deadline. As a result they were kicked out of a tournament they had done so well to qualify for.

While officially it is said that visa applications for the squad were submitted too late, it is being reported in local newspapers that their non arrival was caused by the refusal by the Canadian consulate in Ghana to issue visas on the grounds there was concern that some of the players would not be willing to return home at the end of the competition. Two Ugandan players sought political asylum after being granted visas to play in an ICC tournament in Australia in 2007, and since then it has proved much harder for some teams to get the documentation necessary for them to play in events.

Afghanistan also had issues with entry visas and arrived in Canada the day after the tournament started, but they have been able to honour all their fixtures.

With Kenya, Africa’s leading Associate side, already in effect barred from the competition after the ICC controversially withdrew their rights to host the 2010 U-19 World Cup, that leaves Uganda, who have struggled to make their mark, as the continent’s only country in the qualifying competition.


Martin Williamson is executive editor of ESPNcricinfo and managing editor of ESPN Digital Media in Europe, the Middle East and Africa

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Posted by Vikram Maingi on (September 9, 2009, 11:04 GMT)

This is a serious issue. I agree with Colin. ICC should intervene and negotiate directly with the host countries. Or otherwise if this negotiation is a difficult job, then ICC should give the hosting rights to the nations where it anticipates minimum problems. Even Afghanistan was on the verge of missing the tournament. Finally they have managed and have already qualified for the World Cup with a few matches still remaining. Hosts Canada's fate is still dependent upon the remaining matches.

Posted by colin macbeth on (September 8, 2009, 20:56 GMT)

Quite serious questions need to be asked here if the ICC is not to look foolish by holding such competitions as this, to which some teams seem destined to be unable to come. Maybe the ICC should grab the nettle and, as the governing body, negotiate directly with the host countries (in this case, Canada)on behalf of the teams that have qualified, they in turn then being beholden to the ICC for any misdemeanours that might occur. It's a crying shame that Sierra Leone, recovering from a terrible civil war and making such a fine advance in cricket - that ultimate game of healing - should find themselves so unkindly excluded from going on further.

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Martin Williamson
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.

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