The road to the 2015 World Cup starts here
The long and winding journey to the 2015 World Cup makes its next stop in Nepal with six teams competing in the Pepsi ICC World Cricket League Division 5 from 20 to 27 February.
The WCL gives the Associate and Affiliate nations a pathway towards qualification for the pinnacle event of the limited-overs game. Not that it is easy to get there, of course. Tournament hosts and favourites Nepal will face tough opposition from Bahrain, Fiji, Jersey, Singapore and USA as they attempt to finish in the top two and gain promotion to the Division 4 tournament to be held in Italy in August this year.
USA are heading to Division 5 straight from the World Twenty20 Qualifiers in Dubai, where they made a successful start by beating Scotland in their opening match. The side will arrive in Nepal a week early for the tournament to get some 50-over match practice in ahead of their first match against Fiji.
"We'll be heading straight from the Qualifiers to Nepal, so we'll have had plenty of match practice,” said Steve Massiah, USA’s captain. “We've got some warm-ups in Nepal to help us get back into 50 over cricket from Twenty20. We know Nepal and Jersey well as teams we've met before and as for Singapore, Bahrain and Fiji we'll just have to face what comes at us, but I am confident of my side."
Singapore, which were victorious at the Division 6 games in September last year, have appointed former Sri Lanka opening batsman Marvan Atapattu as their new coach and he is confident that he can pick up with the side where former coach Trevor Chappell left off.
"Trevor Chappell did a fantastic job for Singapore and all the side have been given a taste for victory,” said Atapattu. “It's going to be hard work for the team when we travel to Nepal, which is a challenging venue, but I am confident that we will do well. We are a talented team but being part-timers makes their priorities different from those of pro cricketers so I will also need to adjust while they need to understand my expectations of them which is that we must to compete on all three skills levels – batting, bowling and fielding.”
Mohsin Kamal, who represented Pakistan in Tests and ODIs and is now Bahrain’s coach, is confident his side will play to their strengths at the tournament. "When we went into Division 6 we didn't know all our strengths and now I feel we have discovered them,” he explained. “We play our games with our strengths and abilities and I am confident we'll do well in Nepal.
"We've been taking a look at the other teams' scores but we're concentrating on ourselves. However, we of course know Singapore from Division 6 and also Nepal from the recent tournament we played in the United Arab Emirates. I've also taken a trip to Nepal so am aware of the type of pitches we can expect and but as always with this game it's about what happens on the day," said Mohsin.
Liam Brickhill is a freelance journalist based in Cape Town