Viv Richards stars at the Shanghai Sixes
Welcome to the latest instalment of Beyond the Test World, our regular digest of news from cricket's outposts. In this edition, while the United States team was being caned by Australia, their officials were copping it from the ICC; Namibia hosts a South African provincial team; the Argentine Foreign Ministry puts the mockers on the Falklands; and Sixes action from Shanghai, Houston and Jakarta:
The International Cricket Council has bluntly told United States Cricket Association (USACA) officals they will not receive any funds raised by Project USA, the ICC's plan for popularising cricket in the USA, until they improve both their financial accountability and the overall standard of management. The edict was reportedly handed down during meetings while American officials were in England for the Champions Trophy. The ICC also made it clear it was unimpressed with the USACA's tardiness in the handling of upcoming elections. The officials were told that Project USA funds would go directly to the ICC's development-programme office, and the ICC, through Project USA, would decide how the money would be distributed.
Apparently the subject of ProCricket was not raised during the talks, although it is understood that their representatives also met with ICC development-programme officials around the time of the USACA discussions.
Namibia kicked off a hectic season by losing all their matches last week to the touring Eastern Cape provincial team. The Namibians, who have a new coach - the former Zimbabwe captain Andy Waller - began strongly, declaring their first innings in their three-day match at 346 for 6. Danie Keulder, their former captain, led the charge with 135, supported by Jan-Berrie Burger (73) and Riaan Walters (47). Eastern Cape responded with a massive 504, before the Namibians crumbled in their second innings for 122, Keulder again top-scoring with 38. Pieter Strydom was the second-innings destroyer with 5 for 11 as Namibia went down by an innings and 36 runs. Eastern Cape won the first one-day game by 80 runs, and the second by four wickets.
Eastern Cape's visit was the start of an impressive series of matches for Namibia in their build-up for the ICC Trophy in Ireland next year. On Friday, an Intercontinental Cup match against Kenya starts, with the winners progressing to the semi-finals. The Namibians then commence a short tour of Zimbabwe, starting on October 9, involving one-day matches against Zimbabwe A and provincial teams. And in November, England pay a short visit before their own Zimbabwean tour.
In January, Zimbabwe make a return trip, playing three one-day games and a three-day match. Kenya will also tour, with a similar itinerary. And Sri Lanka may visit in February 2005, although that is not yet confirmed. Namibia will also host Scotland for four one-day matches and a three-day match, before visiting Uganda.
The Argentine Ministry of Foreign Affairs has allegedly scuttled plans for the Falkland Islands to make their international debut at the South American Championships in Santiago, Chile, in December. Dr Roger Diggle, the Falkland Islands captain, told the SARTMA.com website that the Falklands opted out of the tournament after the Argentine Cricket Association had been pressured by its government to withdraw from the tournament if the disputed territory fielded a team. (Argentina is Latin America's strongest cricket nation, and the Argentine CA actively supports cricket development in neighbouring countries such as Chile and Brazil.)
"We told the Chileans that if there were any difficulties then we would ask them to withdraw the invitation rather than wreck the championship," Dr Diggle told the website. "At first, all was going well and the Argentine CA was quite happy to be participating in a tournament that we were playing in. But then the Ministry of Foreign Affairs apparently told them that if they participated, they would view it very unfavourably. This was relayed to us through the Chileans, who said they thought it was best to withdraw the invitation for us to play."
It is expected six teams will take part: Argentina A, Brazil, Chile, Peru, the Miami Masters (a social team consisting of West Indian businessmen), and an Andean Masters XI, comprising several Paraguayan-based Indians and reserves from the other teams.
Dr Diggle said the Falkland Islands Cricket Association was now planning a tour of Chile and Peru in early 2005.
It could not have been further removed from the Chinese Sports Ministry's grand vision for cricket in China: matches completed in darkness, scorers unable to see the play. And, defying the wisdom of Confucius (or anyone else), Pete Cain, the captain of Mao Ming Lu, sledged Sir Vivian Richards as Cain started his run-up ... the resultant sixes were inevitable.
This was all part of the Shanghai International Sixes, which featured teams from China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Thailand earlier this month. Richards, playing for the Shanghai President's team, showed he had not lost his touch, retiring with 50 not out in both his side's matches. Doug Walters also displayed his old form, mostly off the field once a calf injury sidelined him on the first day.
Retired Test players were sprinkled among the weekend amateurs. Tom Hogan, the former Australian Test spinner, and the Indian fast bowler Atul Wassan were also there - and Hogan led Chang Mai's CBB SC to the title at their fourth attempt.
Local officials said that despite some rain on the first day, this was the best Shanghai Sixes tournament so far.
Temperatures above 100 degrees would seem to be ideal conditions for any Mexican - but maybe not for the motley assortment of Commonwealth expatriates who were leading Mexico City Cricket Club's assault on the Houston Memorial Invitational Sixes earlier this month. The combination of the heat, adjusting from their own turf pitches to astroturf, and sheer ability was enough to make Mexico narrowly miss out on a plate semi-final spot in an event which also attracted 13 local teams, and one from New Orleans.
The Australian Ambassador to Mexico, Graeme Wilson - who doubles as Mexico City's captain - stood out, along with his fellow opener, Chris Wood. For the record, Houston Cavaliers clinched the cup, beating another team from Houston with three balls to spare.
There is better news for Mexico on the domestic front, where a fourth team, Tigres Del Begana, is joining the local league, which starts in mid-October.
Teams from Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong and Indonesia will take part in the 11th annual Jakarta Sixes this weekend. The organisers opted to go ahead despite the recent Australian Embassy bombing in Jakarta - only Shanghai and Manila withdrew after travel warnings from the British and Australian embassies in their respective countries. Two teams from Bali will also participate: one of them, Udanaya, is the first club run by Indonesians, in a country which has 6000 junior players.
In the next edition, we hope to report on action from the Jakarta Sixes, a preview of the Middle East Gulf Cup, and the start of the season in Papua New Guinea. For feedback or to provide information about cricket in your country, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. To submit a photo of a ground from your country for the "Ground of the Week" segment, please send it to email@example.com.