WCL Division Three begins in Malawi

Tony Munro

Apartheid decreed Hoosain Ayob, the first ICC Africa development officer, cape coloured and reputedly a bowler of some talent in his day, would never play for his native South Africa at international level because of the colour of his skin.

In a tournament in Blantyre, Malawi, starting on Saturday, four of the five teams playing will be fielding mainly African XIs, thanks chiefly to the work of Ayob, who retired from his role about three years ago.

Lesotho and Sierra Leone (both fully indigenous), Gambia (12 locals), Rwanda (8 born there) will be joined by hosts Malawi (mainly Asian) in the World Cricket League Division Three tournament.

Perhaps none of these countries will make a proper World Cup (Sierra Leone did qualify for the recent Under 19 qualifying tournament before Canadian immigration officials turned them back). It shows, though, how far these countries have come in their development.

No longer are African teams (Malawi aside) stacked with 'mature' players from the subcontinent. Sierra Leone features allrounder Lasmin Lansana, who has done well in previous African tournaments, 11 players under 25 and just two over 30.

Seven of the Gambian team are under 25 and only two over 30 while Rwanda have eight players who are not yet 25. Morocco would have been the sixth team in the tournament but were reportedly stopped from proceeding further en route by Qatar immigration officials due to visa issues, necessitating a bye. Again, their team had only Arabs.

The top two teams will be promoted to Division Two.

The draw:
Saturday, October 3 - Rwanda v Gambia, Malawi v Lesotho, Sierra Leone bye
Sunday, October 4 - Sierra Leone v Gambia, Rwanda v Malawi, Lesotho bye
Monday, October 5 - Sierra Leone v Lesotho, Gambia v Malawi, Rwanda bye
Tuesday, October 6 - Sierra Leone v Malawi, Lesotho v Rwanda, Gambia bye
Wednesday, October 7 - Sierra Leone v Rwanda, Lesotho v Gambia, Malawi bye