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March 22, 2004
Welcome to the return of Beyond the Test World, Wisden Cricinfo's regular update of news from the non-Test nations. This will normally be a smorgasbord from around the globe - but as a one-off this one features chats with five of the captains from the recent ICC Six Nations tournament, in which the USA edged out Scotland by 0.028 on net run rate to earn the final place in the Champions Trophy in September:
United States captain Richard Staple
What's been the reaction to your team qualifying?
Joy and happiness. This win has done a lot for cricket here judging by the response. It's getting out that we won the tournament, and the awareness is much greater now.
What sort of feedback have you had from the non-cricket community?
We've received some calls from politicians. It's an election year. That's always good for publicity, bringing the game into the public forum.
How much preparation was there before the tournament?
We had a camp in Florida as most of our players are from the north-east. Mostly net sessions - we didn't play for months. We had Faoud [Bacchus] as well as a few guys who live in Florida, like the former West Indian player Hamesh Anthony, assisting.
Did you have any idea how quickly you had to win the last match to finish
ahead of Scotland?
About three-quarters of the way into the game we worked out we were going to have to win with two overs to spare.
The batting was your strength - did you bank on that knowing the bowling would concede some runs?
Definitely. The wickets were batting tracks and we backed ourselves to bat second as we chase pretty well. We knew our bowling wasn't as strong.
In the build-up to the Champions Trophy, will you be looking for some more bowlers?
Yes, we have some good young fast bowlers. They were overlooked - I don't know why, to be quite honest. There is a young boy named Imran Awan in Washington DC. He's about the quickest we have in the country. and I think we are going to have to encourage young talent like him because our bowling attack is ageing. We have a lot of cricket prior to the Champions Trophy, so hopefully we can get a few young ones in.
What was different about this squad to previous ones?
Clayton [Lambert] adds professionalism [which was] lacking in the previous sides. Normally, we would lose one or two wickets and then panic when chasing around 240. He keeps his cool, and allows the other players to play with a certain amount of relaxation.
Should the ICC schedule more tournaments for the top six or so non-Test countries?
Yes. That would be great. We have been too inactive. We play a tournament and then don't play for some time. Against teams like Holland, Scotland and Namibia, we can only improve.
Scotland's captain Craig Wright
In the last couple of overs, did you know how long you needed to delay the American win?
We knew roughly, with people doing frantic calculations - we knew another over would help us. We weren't sure whether the US knew until the guy whacked a four.
The USA bowling had been going for around five an over before their game against Scotland - but their spinners seemed to trouble you?
I think the wicket we played on had certainly been used a few times, and it was possibly a little bit tired. It was slow and possibly wasn't as easy to bat on as earlier in the week. That's not to say it was a poor wicket. Our top-order batters seemed to struggle to get the seamers away, and then when the spinners came on it was spinning and we lost five or six mid-innings wickets. When we bowled we had them in a bit of bother through the seamers, and one or two of their batters struggled. It was only when Lambert came in and started playing in a slightly unorthodox fashion that their run-rate increased.
What were the positives for Scotland?
The bowling - I think we could argue we were the strongest bowling line-up throughout the tournament, apart from the Holland game, where we bowled quite a few extras. We kept teams to under 200 at Sharjah, particularly the UAE, which was a fantastic effort. The bowling was good and the fielding pretty reasonable.
Was this the toughest non-Test tournament you've played in?
Yes, the standard was good given the conditions, and teams were evenly matched. We're just disappointed we didn't show we were the best team there
Should the ICC schedule more tournaments involving the best six or so non-Test countries?
Without a doubt. It was fantastic to play against teams of our own level. We're in a fortunate position with the National League in England, but for the other countries to get exposed to good competition at their own level is really valuable. It would certainly be more helpful than to play these countries every two-three years. It gives a good gauge of whether you're progressing
Namibia's captain Deon Kotze
Rather like Scotland, there was a bit of "What might have been" about Namibia - only 160 to chase against Scotland, and then three very good wins ...
I think we can probably accept the loss against Scotland more easily than the one against the USA. Although 160 doesn't sound like a lot, it would have been a winning score in just about every match played on Dubai I. We certainly should have batted a lot better than we did, but 160 was always going to be quite competitive. Looking at our bowling performances in the rest of the tournament, it makes it even more frustrating that we chose the first day against USA to put in one of our worst bowling performances of the last few seasons.
Only four fifties for Namibia in the tournament - does that sum it up?
It definitely sums it up - a few guys actually got starts just to get out softly when they really needed to knuckle down and make a big one. I'm not sure enough guys were willing to change their games according to the conditions, and therefore got out playing quick-wicket shots.
Clayton Lambert was undoubtedly the tournament's batting star. Who were the next-best out of the opposing teams?
Both Gavin Hamilton and Dougie Brown brought real professionalism to the Scottish batting line-up. They showed how to guts it out even when scoring was tough and not throw their wickets away. Steve Massiah from the USA also had a very good tournament.
Five teams were only separated by a fraction of a run to decide the winner. Who were the best team you played against?
I thought Scotland were the most professional, while the Dutch were as steady as ever without being spectacular.
Holland's captain Luuk van Troost
In the last game against the UAE you must have been confident you could defend 290?
Very confident. Our bowling had been very steady during the tournament, so I had no doubts at all. I was very happy with 290, although we should have scored 320 on a flat wicket.
So what happened?
I don't know, but we didn't bowl the right line and length at all. They got off to a flyer and it never looked like we were in the game. All we needed were two bowlers who completed their overs for less than 40 runs. We really missed a bowler like Roland Lefebvre.
Was this the toughest competition the team has played in at non-Test level? If so, why?
Yes - and it's because the gap between the countries was very close and you had to win to qualify. During the ICC Trophy we "only" had to finish in the top three. That was much easier.
What areas of the team performance were you happy with?
We have a fantastic team spirit, and I'm very happy with our batting. We struggled in the last couple of years, but players like Daan van Bunge and Daron Reekers did really well. Daron's a great player and a fantastic character.
And what areas were you not happy with?
Obviously our bowling - I think we had the most runs scored against us. Also our fitness must be better. We are not used to playing five games in seven days in tough conditions. We worked very hard during our winter to improve our fitness, but we can do a lot better there.
Should there be more tournaments of this type at non-Test level?
That would be fantastic. What we miss at the moment are more matches on this level. If so, I'm confident that we can close the gap with countries like Kenya and Bangladesh quite quickly. Scotland are playing in the English one-day competition - we deserve that as well - it would really help us.
Canada's captain Joe Harris
Your team was weakened by absenteeism for various reasons - was that the main reason for your poor results?
Obviously having those fellows around would have made a difference, but the main problem is we lack confidence and proper preparation. There aren't proper resources available to the players to work on their game.
Which aspect of the Canadian performance were you most happy with?
I was very happy with our bowling. I believe we were the only side not to have over 250 scored against us - unfortunately we could not chase the smaller targets.
Which aspect were you least happy with?
The batting, obviously, and the preparation. There seemed to be no planning, and we moved around aimlessly. Canada really needs to look at the type of resources required to build a good side. I think they have the talent but lack guidance.
Thanks to all the captains for their time (the UAE's Khuram Khan was unavailable for business reasons). Beyond the Test World would love to include news from any country outside the Test sphere. Please e-mail Tony Munro at firstname.lastname@example.org with your news.
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