Cricinfo's guide to the minnows of the 2007 World Cup

Underestimate them at your peril

Cricinfo's guide to the minnows of the 2007 World Cup

Will Luke

March 4, 2007

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Minnows, underdogs, unlikelies...call them what you will, but there's no denying that the next few weeks will be the biggest moment in their careers as cricketers. Upsets happen, as Kenya and Canada have proven in past World Cups. Do not dismiss them lightly.



Smile when you're winning © Cricinfo Ltd
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Kenya

(Group C, St Lucia)
Gone are the hunched shoulders and squabbling off-field disputes. Kenya are playing with a smile on their faces - no surprise after winning the World Cricket League in Nairobi in February which also netted them $250,000 and entry into September's Twenty20 World Championship. Roger Harper, their coach, has instilled a steely determination in the past 13 months and, with a delicious mix of young and old, this is the best Kenya side to appear in a World Cup to date.

Main men
Steve Tikolo
Long regarded as one of the best of the non-Test players in the world. Gutsy with the bat, if less flamboyant than in his youth, and his artful offspinning is effective and controlled in the one-day game. Leads by example.

Ravi Shah
An effortless strokemaker, the gem of Kenya's batting. Expect lazy, Laxman-like flicks off his legs and sublime cover-drives. Runs his own very successful business when not playing for Kenya.

Young gun
Tanmay Mishra
Bombay-born with the wrist-flicking elegance to match, and a Sehwag-like fearlessness. Hugely gifted and promising, he was named runner-up at Kenya's Sportsman-of-the-Year awards in February.

 

 



Big in Bermuda © Getty Images
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Bermuda

(Group B, Trinidad & Tobago)
A tiny island with a population of just 65,000, the most unlikely of the unlikelies were given a staggering $11m grant from their government. Fitness problems continue to pervade their image, and performances - though cricket remains Bermuda's national sport, closely followed by football. Disappointing in February's World Cricket League, finishing bottom with just one win out of five, their board has enforced a fiercely strict Code of Conduct on their World Cup Squad. Any player who breaks the 11pm curfew will be immediately banned for two one-dayers and fined $1000.

Main men
David Hemp
Bermuda's only full-time professional, everything rests on him but, so far, the runs haven't flowed as much as his side expected or needed. Nonetheless their best batsman and most reliable catcher. Spent his first six years in Bermuda before playing for Warwickshire and, now captains Glamorgan.

Dwayne Leverock
Huge in Bermuda, in every sense. His 21stone frame belies his talent and guile as a left-arm spinner; controlled, economical - if without much variation.

Young gun
Malachi Jones
Still at school but highly regarded by their coach, Gus Logie. Their best player at a recent Americas-wide junior tournament, and impressed in his debut series at Mombasa in January.

 

 



Ashish Bagai: a fine talent © Eddie Norfolk
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Canada

(Group C, St Lucia)
Unpredictable but with a number of dangerous, aggressive players, Canada highlight the peril of the big nations underestimating their little cousins. John Davison's spanking hundred, from just 67 balls, against the West Indies in the 2003 World Cup still lingers long in the memory. Indeed, their batting isn't a problem - it is their bowling which will hamper their progress.

Main men
John Davison
Australian-raised but Canadian-born, Davison is the Gilchrist of Canada. A fierce striker at the top of the order and a very useful offspinner. Quite simply, Davison is the Canadian team: if he fires, so will Canada.

Qaiser Ali
Solid, reliable and talented batsman who bowls a bit, he scored 174 against the Netherlands in 2006 and is a key figure at No.5. Trains with a coke bottle for stumps, often in the freezing cold.

Young gun
Ashish Bagai
Born in Delhi, Bagai is a gifted wicketkeeper and very fine, compact batsman. Performed brilliantly in February's World Cricket League with two blistering hundreds, averaging 86.25 and was named player of the tournament. One to watch.

 

 



Ryan ten Doeschate is the Netherlands' rock © AFP
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Netherlands

(Group A, St Kitts)
They can beat the best and lose to the worst. In short, their form is erratic, as demonstrated in the World Cricket League in February (three wins, two losses). They spent 11 years in England's one-day tournament, of varying names (now the C&G) before, in 2006, they were excluded. It still rankles with their captain, Luuk van Troost.

Main men
Ryan ten Doeschate
A real find and possibly the best Associate cricketer who is making his mark at Essex. Not shy of hitting over the top, he was explosive in the Intercontinental Cup, with 770 runs at a mere 192, including 259 against Canada. Very useful medium-pacer and a reliable fielder - he is everything to the Netherlands.

Luuk van Troost
Headmaster of a special-needs school in Rotterdam and one of Netherlands' most experienced. Calm, studious captain and batsman and brother of Andre, the former Somerset fast bowler.

Young gun
Alexei Kervezee
"Shades of Graeme Hick" so says Ian Pont, Holland's bowling coach. Made his debut aged just 15 and signed for Worcestershire on a two-year contract in September 2006. Holland's biggest talent since ten Doeschate.

 

 



Skipping in Ed Joyce's footsteps, Eoin Morgan © Getty Images
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Ireland

(Group D, Jamaica)
A side improving year on year, Ireland play with great passion and fire and contain some explosive batsmen. It is their bowling which lacks depth and firepower, though Dave Langford-Smith generally keeps it tight and Trent Johnston, the captain, is nippy. They were runners-up to Scotland in the 2005 ICC Trophy and, although they miss Ed Joyce, have three Australians and a South African in their lineup. This is their first World Cup.

Main men
Niall O'Brien
An aggressive, combative and very chatty wicketkeeper-batsman who made 58 in Ireland's brilliant win over the West Indies in 2004. Earned a one-match ban after an outburst at officials during an Intercontinental Cup match against Scotland. Disappointing in the World Cricket League in February, but is due a big score. Signed for Northamptonshire for the 2007 season and is older brother to Kevin, the Ireland batsman.

Jeremy Bray
Huge striker and a confident yet laid-back character whose main job is a fitness instructor. Born in Australia, he played a few games for New South Wales before marrying into Ireland. Hits a very long ball.

Young gun
Eoin Morgan
The next Ed Joyce or possibly even better, he too was snapped up by Middlesex. Elegant on the back foot, not afraid to hit over the top and itching to impress. A joy to watch.

 

 



Ryan Watson on the drive © Getty Images
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Scotland

(Group A, St Kitts)
Regarded as the next best side behind Kenya, justifiably so with an impressive allround game, they are also the fittest of the Associates. Like Kenya they were awarded $250,000 (£128,000) for reaching the final of the World Cricket League in Kenya. Confidently and boisterously coached by Peter Drinnen, a former Queensland wicketkeeper, who recently said his side can beat Australia in the World Cup.

Main men
Ryan Watson
Like his team-mate Gavin Hamilton, he works for Caledonian brewery as a marketer, but there is little sheen or gloss in his batting. He hits a very long, hard ball and is a genuine matchwinner, although disappointed in the World Cricket League with just one fifty. Useful offbreaks add to his repertoire.

Dougie Brown
Played for England in the 1990s, before coaching Namibia in the 2003 World Cup. At 37, his bowling isn't quite as nippy as it once was, but his experience will count for everything.

Young gun
Majid Haq
A prodigious talent, he was often criticised for being overweight. The new, trim Haq owes much to a burst appendix 12 months ago, causing him to lose two stone and gain the attention of the Scotland selectors. A tidy, flat offspinner and improving batsman.

Will Luke is editorial assistant of Cricinfo

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Will Luke Assistant editor Will opted against a lifetime of head-bangingly dull administration in the NHS, where he had served for two years. In 2005 came a break at Cricinfo where he slotted right in as a ferociously enthusiastic tea drinker and maker, with a penchant for using "frankly" and "marvellous". He also runs The Corridor, a cricket blog where he can be found ranting and raving about all things - some even involving the sport. He is a great-great nephew of Sir Jack Newman, the former Wellingtonian bowler who took two wickets at 127 apiece for New Zealand.

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