Associates announce squads for ICC World Twenty20 qualifiers
The best cricketers in the six Associate countries are gearing up for the ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier to be held in Belfast in two weeks' time.
Bermuda, Canada, Ireland, Netherlands, Scotland and Kenya have each announced their squads, with plenty at stake: the two finalists will qualify for the ICC World Twenty20 in England next year. Furthermore, the ICC announced last week that there will be a reserve day to accommodate a possible third and fourth-place play-off. If Zimbabwe step down from the competition, which has yet to be confirmed by their board, a third Associate will replace them.
Ireland, the top seed, will be led by William Porterfield, the 23-year-old left-hander who is currently playing for Gloucestershire, and who succeeded Trent Johnston as captain this year. Porterfield is yet to captain Ireland in an ODI but has led his team in five Friends Provident Trophy matches. And although his side lost four of the matches, Porterfield inspired his team to a four-wicket victory over Warwickshire, which was Ireland's first win over a county side in two years.
Kenya, meanwhile, will be led by their veteran, Steve Tikolo, in a squad that features 11 players who participated in the last World Twenty20 in South Africa in 2007. Captain since 2002, Tikolo was instrumental in not only earning ODI status for Kenya but also a place in the 1999 World Cup when he scored 147 against Bangladesh in the 1997 qualifiers. Thomas Odoyo, the Associate ODI Player of the Year, is the other veteran, having played in all four World Cups in which Kenya have participated.
Third seed Scotland, led by Ryan Watson, have opted for continuity in naming a squad which has just three changes from the side which participated in last year's World Twenty20.
The Netherlands squad is less certain, however. Alexei Kervezee, their gifted young batsman who plays for Worcestershire, pulled out of their Intercontinental Cup match against Ireland two weeks ago, and is unlikely to be fit in time for the qualifiers. There is better news, however, with the inclusion of Ryan ten Doeschate, the Essex allrounder and one of Associate cricket's most exciting batsmen.
38-year-old John Davison returns to bolster a very inexperienced Canada while Bermuda, who are again in a state of flux and redevelopment, will be captained by Irving Romaine. As ever, their batting relies upon David Hemp.
The qualifiers get underway on August 2.