World Cup 2015 Qualifiers

Last chance to book berth at World Cup 2015

Peter Della Penna

January 12, 2014

Comments: 15 | Text size: A | A

Five years worth of fluctuating fortunes in the World Cricket League Championship culminates in the 2014 ICC World Cup Qualifier, beginning in New Zealand on Monday. Teams as low as Division Seven of the ICC's 50-over round-robin tournament structure had the chance to climb the Associate and Affiliate ladder to get within striking distance of a spot at the 2015 ICC World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.

Two Associate berths remain available for next year's event after Ireland and Afghanistan snatched a pair of places by virtue of finishing first and second in the ICC World Cricket League. The bottom six teams in the WCL Championship are joined in New Zealand by the third and fourth place teams from WCL Division Two in 2011 - Papua New Guinea and Hong Kong - as well as the first and second place teams from last year's ICC WCL Division Three, Nepal and Uganda.

The 10 teams are split into two groups of five for the initial phase of round-robin play after which the top three from each group will advance to the Super Six stage and remain in the hunt for a World Cup berth. Points gained from the group stage against fellow Super Six participants will carry over while the three teams in Group A will each play three crossover games with the three that advance from Group B. The top two teams after the Super Six stage will advance to the final and gain entry to next year's World Cup.

Group A


Paras Khadka smashes one down the ground, Hong Kong v Nepal, ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier, quarter-final, Abu Dhabi, November 27, 2013
Captain Paras Khadka has been the backbone of Nepal's success in recent years © ICC
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What the coaches and captains said

  • Aqib Javed, UAE coach: "We have a good batting unit, but it has struggled on green, seaming tracks. That's why I am working extra hard with the batters specifically on how to counter seam and swing."
  • Paul Collingwood, Scotland coach: "We've got confidence from the three wins (in practice games). We've nailed down an approach that we want to use throughout the tournament, and the guys have performed well in the middle."
  • Pubudu Dassanayake, Nepal coach: "It has really helped us to be here early and get used to the conditions. The guys took two to three days to get over the jet lag and now we're really settled. The conditions are very different here. Weather-wise, it is similar to Nepal."
  • Andy Pick, Canada coach: "We spent a few days in Auckland and played against a local team. It was an acclimatisation process really. Some guys have come from Winnipeg, where the temperature was minus 20 degrees, and they've come here where it's 20 degrees or so, so for some of them the temperature change has been up to 40 degrees!"
  • Anton Roux, Netherlands coach: "We focused immensely on our strength and conditioning prior to the World T20 Qualifiers and this tournament. I think it is safe to say that this is the fittest that the Dutch team has been in a long time."
  • Peter Borren, Netherlands captain: "I would say that we have a very good chance of qualifying. The team spent a fantastic week training and playing in Whangarei."
  • Kyle Coetzer, Scotland captain: "Our momentum is good. We've got the leading spin bowlers in Associate cricket - Majid Haq especially."
  • Jimmy Hansra, Canada captain: "The tournament format means there will be no meaningless matches. So we'll have to be on our toes throughout."
  • Paras Khadka, Nepal captain: "The main reason we came here early was to acclimatise. We felt that in Bermuda for WCL Division 3 in April 2013, the first week was really hard - the time difference, the temperature. It's really helped us to have the time here."

UAE
They narrowly missed out on one of the two places available for World Cup qualification in the WCL Championship, finishing just one point behind Afghanistan. They were good enough to sweep both 50-over games they played against Afghanistan during the competition and went 6-2 overall in games played in the UAE with their only losses at home coming to Ireland.

On the road they were not quite as formidable, going 3-3 including a loss to Kenya in their first match of the tournament and a sweep at the hands of Netherlands, who finished in fourth place on the table. Their ability to adjust to New Zealand conditions with a bowling attack light on seam options and heavy on spin will be a major factor. UAE showed in their two warm-up matches ahead of the qualifier, though, that any fears of a struggle may be unfounded, with heavy wins over Uganda and pre-tournament favorites Netherlands.

Scotland
After finishing fifth in the WCL Championship and a disappointing seventh at November's World Twenty20 Qualifier, a mini shakeup occurred with coach Pete Steindl leaving and Paul Collingwood moving up from assistant coach to the top role for the World Cup qualifiers. Scotland need to exploit the seaming conditions in New Zealand if they are to qualify for the World Cup for the first time since 2007.

Seam bowlers Rob Taylor, Saafyan Sharif and Gordon Goudie demonstrated in the warm-up fixtures against Papua New Guinea and Namibia that they will be a handful to deal with. 22-year-old batsman Matt Machan is also carrying solid form into this tournament. Group A is far more competitive than Group B, but Scotland will be extremely disappointed if they don't make it to the Super Six stage.

Canada
Despite qualifying for the last three World Cups, Canada are the most vulnerable of any of the four Associate ODI nations in this event of not progressing to the Super Six stage. They performed poorly in November at the World Twenty20 Qualifier, finishing 12th, and wound up dead last in the WCL Championship. Head coach Gus Logie was dismissed upon the team's return from the UAE in December and it is up to interim coach Andy Pick to turn things around on short notice if Canada have any chance of keeping their World Cup streak alive.

John Davison was Canada's catalyst for success in the last decade but since his departure after the 2011 World Cup, they have been unable to develop a genuine matchwinner. Former captain Ashish Bagai's early retirement last month at the age of 31 exacerbated the issue of a lack of batting depth. Teenager Nitish Kumar scored a century in a 39-run win over Netherlands in a warm-up match on Friday, but Canada had also beaten Afghanistan in a World T20 Qualifier warm-up match before flopping in the main event.

Hong Kong
This team is one of the most balanced sides in the competition, with a pair of quality fast bowlers in Aizaz Khan and allrounder Irfan Ahmed to go along with good support from spinners Nadeem Ahmed and Nizakat Khan. However, they will miss out on the experience of left-arm spinner Munir Dar, who was the second highest wicket-taker at the World T20 Qualifier. His action was reported twice during the tournament and he was subsequently ruled illegal by the ICC resulting in his suspension from bowling in international cricket for 12 months.

Of Hong Kong's many young batting talents, batsman Mark Chapman has a lot of experience in local conditions. Chapman had a successful school career in Auckland, captaining King's College, and is expected to make major contributions in the middle order. The only strike against Hong Kong is their mercurial nature, as likely to score 300 as they are to be bowled out for 120. They must demonstrate consistency to make it out of a stacked Group A and into the Super Six stage.

Nepal
No team has climbed higher through the most recent WCL tournament cycle than Nepal to reach the qualifier. They started in Division Five in 2010, which they hosted and won, before winning both Division Four in Malaysia in 2012 and Division Three in Bermuda last May. Even though their attack is spin heavy, they have demonstrated that they can be successful in varied conditions away from home.

The backbone of the team's success in recent years has been captain Paras Khadka but Nepal must get quality contributions from a thin pace bowling unit to survive in the tournament. Sompal Kami, a 17-year-old medium-pace bowler, is expected to make his debut and could provide the spark Nepal need. In the warm-ups he took 4 for 36 against Namibia but was rocked by Kenya to finish with 0 for 86. Nepal needs more of the former and not the latter to stay in the hunt.

Group B


Netherlands' Ahsan Malik picked up four wickets in his spell, Denmark v Netherlands, ICC World Twenty20 Qualifiers, Group B, Dubai, November 19, 2013
Netherlands fast bowler Ahsan Malik was the leading wicket-taker at the World T20 Qualifier and should enjoy as much success in seam-friendly conditions in New Zealand © ICC/Getty
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Netherlands
The pre-tournament favourites are banking on a quality seam attack and a steady batting unit to produce a return trip to the World Cup. Captain Peter Borren is a former New Zealand U-19 representative and will be drawing on his experiences before migrating to Holland to aid his adopted country at this event.

Fast bowler Ahsan Malik was the leading wicket-taker at the World Twenty20 Qualifier in the UAE and should enjoy just as much success in seam-friendly conditions in New Zealand. A pair of losses in tournament warm-up fixtures to Canada and UAE may cause slight alarm but they are hands down the strongest team in a weak Group B so will be expected to gain maximum points to carry over into the next stage.

Kenya
Their weaknesses were exposed in a competitive group at the World Twenty20 Qualifier, but Kenya should now benefit from being paired with fellow African nations Namibia and Uganda in Group B. Steve Tikolo was one of the few bright spots in November after coming out of retirement and if he can produce a few more vintage innings then it should be enough for them to get into the Super Sixes.

A big positive for Kenya entering the start of the qualifier is the form of opener Irfan Karim. He made an unbeaten 130 in a narrow two-run loss to Hong Kong in a warm-up fixture on Friday. Kenya are also hoping that a change in leadership, with Rakep Patel taking over the captaincy from Collins Obuya, will help turn things around.

Namibia
If they had been placed in Group A, Namibia would have a slim chance of making it out of the group stage. They finished equal with Canada on four points in the WCL Championship, but by virtue of having two wins to Canada's one, they were seventh in the standings on tie-breaker instead of eighth which subsequently resulted in Namibia landing in Group B and Canada in Group A.

Namibia's luck of the draw is not the only piece of good fortune for them heading into this tournament. Gerrie Snyman, originally left out of the squad for the qualifier, has been added as a replacement for JB Burger. Snyman hadn't played for Namibia since last January due to a dispute with the Namibia board over his availability but showed what his country has been missing all this time by top-scoring with 73 against Scotland in a warm-up game.

Papua New Guinea
The Pacific Islanders showed plenty of energy at the World Twenty20 Qualifier, making it out of the group stage, but the lack of an explosive slogger in their line-up probably prevented them in the end from finishing in the top six. The steady accumulation of runs needed in 50-over cricket better suits their playing style and will aid their chances of success in this tournament.

PNG don't have any express bowlers, but a slew of accurate medium-pacers led by captain Chris Amini and Mahuru Dai may pose problems for the opposition. Geraint Jones is the most heralded player in their squad due to his Test credentials, but opener Tony Ura outperformed Jones in the UAE in November and is hoping to build on that experience.

Uganda
After winning just one game at the 2005 ICC Trophy and two at the 2009 World Cup Qualifier, Uganda are aiming to change their struggles at this tournament. However, the chances of that happening are slim due to the nature of conditions and their lack of batting depth. Uganda must rely on their sharp fielding to make up for deficiencies with the bat and in the pace bowling department.

In Uganda's favour is the fact that several players carry the experience into this tournament from playing in previous editions of the qualifier. Medium-pacer Charles Waiswa, wicketkeeper Laurence Sematimba and allrounder Frank Nsubuga will be playing in this event for the third time. They will need to shepherd some of the newer faces through the daunting schedule ahead of them.

Peter Della Penna is ESPNcricinfo's USA correspondent. He tweets here

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by WeirdBeard420 on (January 15, 2014, 15:43 GMT)

Anil_Koshy: As a born-and-raised Canadian, I would not be sad if Canada were to qualify for another World Cup appearance. However, I do understand where you are coming from. The game of cricket would be taken much more seriously in Canada if the players on the national team were actually playing for their own nation's glory.

I'm sure if you ask any of the XI in Canada's squad if they'd rather go to the World Cup for Canada or their birth nation, very few (if any) would choose Canada. A national team will never gain the respect or adulation of the nation's people without national pride. Would the people of India be as proud of their national hockey team if the players were all Canadian expats?

If ICC were to work more closely with the grassroots administrators of cricket in Canada to develop local, recognised talent, perhaps more young Canadians would take an interest in playing cricket. Then, in future World Cups, we could choose an XI from a pool of thousands instead of dozens.

Posted by   on (January 14, 2014, 0:37 GMT)

nepal cricket has some talented cricketers like indian young talent , this could be their moment , lets hope they will utilize it all the very best for them

Posted by   on (January 13, 2014, 20:49 GMT)

Canada will qualify I guarantee it

Posted by   on (January 13, 2014, 19:58 GMT)

with the limited spaces available, we can now anticipate keen and intriguing cricket.....

Posted by   on (January 13, 2014, 10:26 GMT)

I think according to the team strengths Netherlands, Scotland , Nepal n UAE have chances of finishing in top four n 2 will qualify I think so

Posted by   on (January 13, 2014, 10:03 GMT)

best wishes for nepal from Bangladesh

Posted by OttawaRocks on (January 13, 2014, 6:12 GMT)

Hope Canada qualifies! Go Canada!

Posted by   on (January 13, 2014, 6:09 GMT)

Mr Anil Koshy,,, You have no idea how hard this cricketers have worked to reached their respective national sides.Your so called Comment of "discarded cricketer" is a Disrespect toward the cricketer and the respective countries.By the way UAE cricket has been started by initiatives of indian and pakistani people.They came into the lime light when the qualified for worldcup in 1996....I really feel its a poor thinking and comment by you.personally you must have hurt the sentiment of hongkong, UAE, and canadian people...

Posted by   on (January 13, 2014, 5:34 GMT)

hope nepal wil be qualify for wc

Posted by Anil_Koshy on (January 13, 2014, 4:19 GMT)

It would be an insult if Honk Kong, UAE or Canada qualifies. ICC should do something to keep teams comprising of expatriates, discarded cricketer from India, Pakistan and West Indies away from participating in qualifying tournaments. It would be sad if teams like Nepal or Scotland miss out and Honk Kong, UAE or Canada qualifies.

Posted by   on (January 12, 2014, 19:41 GMT)

Hope cricket will become as popular as football.ICC Administration has to invest more in promoting cricket in other countries. I have become bored of seeing the same 9/10 teams competing ..

Posted by   on (January 12, 2014, 18:33 GMT)

@amin Afghanistan already qualified! I wish PNG will qualify for the cup.

Posted by beingrajan on (January 12, 2014, 18:08 GMT)

hope nepal is going to do their best to make us believe..go nepal!

Posted by   on (January 12, 2014, 17:39 GMT)

supporting afghanistan all the way

Posted by   on (January 12, 2014, 16:23 GMT)

Hope that Nepal and Kenya make it through to the final, with Holland and Scotland finishing in the top 4 to maintain their ODI status.

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Tournament Results
Scotland v U.A.E. at Lincoln - Feb 1, 2014
Scotland won by 41 runs
Hong Kong v P.N.G. at Lincoln - Jan 30, 2014
Hong Kong won by 3 wickets (with 83 balls remaining)
Kenya v Scotland at Christchurch - Jan 30, 2014
Scotland won by 3 wickets (with 3 balls remaining)
Namibia v U.A.E. at Rangiora - Jan 30, 2014
U.A.E. won by 36 runs
Nepal v Uganda at Mount Maunganui (2) - Jan 28, 2014
Nepal won by 160 runs
Canada v Netherlands at Mount Maunganui - Jan 28, 2014
Netherlands won by 8 wickets (with 80 balls remaining)
Hong Kong v Namibia at Rangiora - Jan 28, 2014
Hong Kong won by 76 runs
Kenya v U.A.E. at Christchurch - Jan 28, 2014
U.A.E. won by 13 runs
P.N.G. v Scotland at Lincoln - Jan 28, 2014
Scotland won by 52 runs
More results »
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