Teams gear up for WCL Division 2
The World Cricket League Division Two, a 50-over competition, gets underway on Friday in the UAE with six teams, including the hosts, taking part. The top four teams will receive increased funding from the ICC's High Performance Programme while two teams - chosen by the ICC's Development Committee - out of the top four will play in the Intercontinental Cup later in the year.
"We are very well prepared for this event," UAE captain Khurram Khan said. "We've been playing matches constantly over the last four weeks against two teams, so we feel ready to go. It was heartbreaking to lose on home ground to Namibia in the I-Shield, so we're looking forward to playing to even out the record.
"There are a lot of new players in the UAE team: Shaiman Anwaar and a new wicketkeeper, Swapnil Patil, who are all playing incredibly well. Hong Kong have a very good new side, and we've been following the team. Bermuda as well - they practice a lot - they've played more than we have on our home ground at the ICC Global Cricket Academy, so yes it is going to be a very good competition and so we'll just take it one game at a time."
PNG were promoted from Division 3 last year, but their captain Rarva Dikana wants to move further up the divisions. "The boys are really good; since we've moved up from Division 3 we've increased our preparation. In addition we've also been to Australia, so I think we are in good shape for this tournament," he said. "It would mean a lot to our players, our country and to the development of the game should we win or finish in the top four of this event. Funding will help us, at a junior level and at senior level, to continue our growth. So it will mean so much to us if we do well."
For Bermuda, this the second trip to the UAE, something their captain David Hemp said has helped them acclimatise to the conditions. "As a squad we've been in the UAE since March 27, and have been using this extra time to get used to the conditions. We also came out in January for a 10-day tour to experience conditions, and get a feel for the tournament," Hemp said. "All sides are going to be competitive; the two from Division 3 will be confident following their achievements and those already in Division 2 will be confident as well. Every game's a challenge, we're just going to concentrate on what we're doing and play the best cricket we can."
Hong Kong were the winners of the Division 3 tournament last year. "We know the value of winning this tournament and this tournament is vital for the future of Hong Kong's cricket," their captain Najeeb Amar said. "The people of Hong Kong and the government are all very expectant and if we won the revelation would be remarkable. And of course if we win it means more funding for Hong Kong cricket."
Two African nations, Uganda and Namibia, complete the mix. "It's very important for us to do well because we've lost a lot of good guys recently," Uganda captain Mirza Baig said. "So it's even more important for us to carry on the game, do something for them, leave something behind so others can take the game forward. We are looking for that extra funding, and expecting more to develop the game. We're not worried; we shall give our best and apply ourselves, and funding ultimately will come."
Baig added that Namibia were his team's biggest threat. "Namibia, for sure. They are a very good side, very experienced and have lots of good players. They are playing better than good and are probably the best side."
Namibia's captain Craig Williams said his side was well prepared. "We came early, and played two warm-up games against Hong Kong and Bermuda, while back home we played in the South African Amateur League - with very strong competition - so we feel well prepared. I think all the teams are very well-balanced, and I can't really single out anyone. However, in the UAE team, Khurram Khan and Saquib Ali are very good.
"The facilities here in the UAE have been fantastic and we just hope we can use them to the best of our abilities and push our way back up into contention to be in Division 1; it's really important for us to be there."
The week-long tournament ends on April 15.
Bermuda: David Hemp (captain), Curt Stovell, Fiqre Crockwell, Christopher Foggo, Jason Anderson, Irving Romaine, Lionel Cann, Rodney Trott, Deylone Borden, Malachi Jones, Stefan Kelly, Damali Bell, James West, Kyle Hodsall
Hong Kong: Najeeb Amar (captain), Nadeem Ahmed, Irfan Ahmed, Waqas Barkat, Adil Mehmood, Khalid Butt, Asif Khan, Courtney Kruger, Roy Lansam, Mark Chapman, Nizakat Mohammed, Moner Muhammed, Mohammed Khan, Maxwell Tucker
Namibia: Craig Williams (captain), Raymond van Schoor, Ewald Steenkamp, Sarel Burger, Gerrie Snyman, Andries Burger, Bjorn Kotze, Tobias Verwey, Kola Burger, Louis Klazinga, Bernhard Scholtz, Louis van der Westhuizen, Christoffel Viljoen, Helao La France
Papua New Guinea: Rarva Dikana (captain), Chris Amini, Assodallah Vala, Kila Pala, Andrew McIntosh, Willie Gavera, Mahuru Dai, Raymond Haoda, Chris Kent, Jack Vare-Kevere, Tony Ura, Vani Morea, Hitolo Areni, Jason Kila
UAE: Khurram Khan (captain), Mohammed Touqir, Naeem Aslam, Saqib Ali, Arshad Ali, Amjad Ali, Shadeep Silva, Amjad Javed, Nasir Aziz, Aqib Malik, Ahmed Raza, Swanpil Patil, Irfan Ahmed Sajjad, Shaiman Anwar
Uganda: Mirza Baig (captain), Benjamin Musoke, Roger Mukasa, Laurence Sematimba, Frank Nsubuga, Hamza Almuzahim, Arthur Kyobe, Charles Waiswa, Davis Arinaitwe, Ronald Ssemanda, Deusdedit Muhumuza, Raymond Otim, Henry Senyondo, Daniel Ruyange