The need to give national players more experience at playing under pressure through the strengthening of domestic structures was the main theme to come out of a review of the ICC Trophy amongst captains and coaches of the competing countries.
Several captains and coaches cited the jump in standard from domestic competitions to international play a major hurdle to their national team performing to potential. Other suggested their national team needed more exposure against the stronger Associates.
It's a big thankyou to all captains and coaches for taking the time to answer questions. Those countries not represented here were those who's respective mentors were out of the country. I attempted to get the views of all countries.
Well it's been almost two months since the ICC Trophy final - have your
nerves settled yet? What were you thinking during that final over?
It has certainly taken a long time to get over the excitement of World Cup qualification. You don't realise until after the tournament how mentally and physically exhausting the ICC Tournament actually was. Playing 10 very hard games in 3 weeks is something else but the rewards are there and we are certainly treasuring the feeling of being in South Africa in 18 month's time and that feeling doesn't seem to get any less as the weeks go by. There are two last overs that keep going through my mind i.e. Ireland and Namibia. Of those two games the Ireland last over was far more crucial and often and still wonder how we managed to get through it. A pity there was no television coverage in that game. The last over against Namibia was quite incredible too the difference being that we were getting right on top (read JJ!) and Namibia was starting to make more mistakes so we had more control on the situation. The way we scored 3 runs off the last ball was very freakish to say the least
What has been the reaction amongst the Dutch cricket community to
qualifying for 2003? Has it given cricket much mainstream exposure?
The reactions amongst the Dutch cricketing community have been fantastic. We never realised how many people were following the games on the Internet and spend many a nerve wrecking night behind their computer. Full credit must go to CricInfo for providing this fantastic medium. Rather disappointing was the level of interest we received from newspapers and television. Hopefully with the World Cup qualification they will finally wake up and give us the respect and coverage we deserve.
This was your fifth ICC Trophy - how did the standard compare to past
This was indeed my fifth tournament. I think that the overall strength of the teams is improving and there are many more sides capable of qualification. From that perspective it was the hardest tournament. What made it easier was that because of the format of the tournament consistency in ones play/performances were rewarded and teams that played good cricket throughout the tournament could effort to lose a game in the latter stages without having the threat that one bad game can mean being knocked out of the tournament as was the case in previous tournaments.
As you mentioned during the tournament, one of the beauties of the team
is that it was a good unit, rather than reliant on one of two individuals.
Having said that, are there any players you would nominate as key
contributors, and why?
Quite rightly the strength of the Dutch was the strong unity of the team. Having said that I think the bowling line up deserves extra credit as they got the team out of a few very nasty situations. The batting let us down a bit but on the whole we did get the runs on the board on some very difficult wickets. The fielding was of a very high standard throughout the tournament and in the important games we took some incredible catches. Extra mention goes out to JJ Esmeijer who as a relatively inexperienced national team player had a fantastic all-round tournament. Asim Khan bowled much better than his figures suggested and in partnership with myself applied early pressure on the opposing batsman in every single game. Tim de Leede matured as one of the leading players in the side whose first or second change bowling proved to be invaluable. Reinout Scholte had a fantastic tournament behind the stumps and his ability to stand up to the wicket (to all our bowlers) in those two crucial games seemed to have a great influence on the outcome of the games. But again every player in our side played a very important role and carried their responsibilities with great maturity. It is certainly the best side a have played in.
Which team tested you the most, apart from Namibia, and why?
I think that, apart from Namibia, both Ireland and the UAE tested us the most. UAE because they have an exceptional spinning side and we played them on a turning track, Ireland because they were on top of us for most of the game. Very strong batting line up. Scotland on paper probably the best side but we seemed to outplay them in every department. A crucial aspect in all the close games was that coming to the crunch we seemed to be able to handle the pressure best.
Given the loss to a non-First Class team the other day (although you
didn't field a full strength team), what effect do you think the fast
tracking programme will have?
The fast tracking system will give particularly the younger players all the possibilities to play a lot of cricket under the right circumstances. We will get a lot of exposure and opportunities. Hopefully there will be plenty of youngsters grabbing these opportunities and take over from the oldies in the side. With qualification we have laid the base for at least four years of good development.
How does it feel knowing you are going to the World Cup?
It has begun to sink in now that practice is beginning again. It's come down that there will be lots of critical eyes from all our friends and foes that have heard about our doing well, so we've come to terms with the fact the hard work has basically started.
How has the reaction to qualification been in the last two months
It's been amazing basically. Everyone who passes us in the street is congratulating us. One thing that has come out of it is we get about 100-200 people watching our games. We will definitely look at getting a lot more spectators coming to games. That's why we have told ourselves we have to do well in future.
In Namibia, cricket has been a white person's game. Has there been much
reaction from the black population?
Definitely - there have been a lot of 'phone calls from people asking where they can get their kids started playing cricket. Our development program has been going quite a while and there are three or four youngsters coming through - obviously not up to national level yet, but there has been a strong response..
With the confidence gained from playing in the UCB Bowl, did the team
give itself a good chance of qualifying for the World Cup?
I would say we knew we were capable of qualifying for the Super Eight, and once inside that, it's a once-off every time. we said to ourselves, 'play well on the day and anything can happen'. We really didn't expect to qualify, but the top eight definitely.
Which was the performance during the tourament which stood out the
The match against Scotland was the one that qualified us, and the spell of 6-43 of the youngster Burton van Rooi swung the game and the course of the competition totally. The second spell where he came back and picked up four wickets was the one that got us into the World Cup.
There has been talk that the loss to you demoralised the Scots. Did it
seem to you to be the case?
We had some chats with the Scottish blokes after the match, and they still had to play Canada - they weren't sure what to expect. They probably bailed out of the World Cup after we had beaten them. I said to them as well, if we had lost that match, we probably would have lost the third place play-off because it was really intense and to pick yourself up physically and mentally as you had done for previous three weeks was just a hell of an ask. I wouldn't say they weren't mentally strong enough, but they were always going to battle
So, who were Namibia's better players apart from Burton van Rooi?
We had a right arm off-spinner, Deon Kotze, who picked up quite a few wickets for under three an over, and we had a left arm spinner, older guy in the team who was also player/coach who also went for under three an over. The spinners did a hell of a job and created the pressure so when Burton came back he picked up the wickets.
What do you want to achieve at the World Cup?
We would like to play confident cricket. we wouldn't want to get in there and be 80 all out and lose in 10 or 11 overs. We would like to play to the best of our ability and put up a good perfoirmance. If that means being bowled out for 200 and Australia getting it in the 50th over then I think we have done our part. We have to be realistic about it and a hell of a lot of work will have to go into our preparation and especially playing pace bowling - that is something we don't do a lot - and that is something we are going to have to prepare for.
Has it sunk in that you are going to the World Cup?
The feeling is still there and we're all thrilled about it. The players are very eager to find out what all the plans are, so we can prepare for it. Playing against the best in the world is what the players aspire to. People are talking about it - they know about it, which is a good thing.
So has it generated interest in cricket in Canada?
To a certain degree, yes, obviously because of the media coverage. We went to a function at the Indian Embassy and when we walked on stage it was a thrill to know that people knew we'd qualified for the World Cup.
Looking back, was the team fairly confident it could qualify
Yeah, we had played against Holland last year and judging by our performance against them, we were pretty confident we had the ability to do it. Just a matter of getting the boys to play together which is not a hard task. The team spirit was just incredible - just a matter of getting the boys to appreciate what we have to do and appreciate what you can achieve by winning and qualifying. It came together - we struggled early on it was very difficult to get the whole team to come together because we had boys in England. As they started beating people, they grew in confidence and realised they had the ability. I personally think we have quite a lot of talent in the side - just a matter of getting it together and getting it to work for us.
How did the team feel going into the play-off match
Amazingly, they weren't under a lot of pressure. In the team meeting the night before the game, we talked about doing your own thing and doing your normal routine rather than thinking about the game tomorrow. The boys were watching movies and relaxing. We did a little bit of studying on the Scotland team as we had a tape of the Namibia game so the coach and I figured what we needed to do.
What did you think when Scotland lost early wickets?
Watching their batting, they're not very attacking. They promoted someone up the order to attack but we weren't overly worried. We knew the track pretty well - it wasn't very quick. It was a second day track, took a bit of turn - a bit slow. So I wasn't too surprised they lost wickets. If you take chances you run the risk of losing wickets. I was surprised we didn't make breakthoughs earlier but we ended up in a fairly comfortable position and it was pretty easy for us to apply pressure to their two experienced batsmen, Parsons and Salmond.
Throughout the tournament, the spinners, Davison and Seebaran did pretty
I personally think we had the two best spinners in the tournament. John Davison's obviously experienced playing a fairly high level of cricket in Australia. Barry Seebaran's not very well known but he's probably the most accurate spinner I have seen in the tournament. He's very steady and not as attacking as John, and that's why he will probably not get as many wickets as John but he's steady and reliable. Basically both did the job for the whole tournament. Barry's a man that will pull you through everytime when you're under pressure because he's such a difficult bowler to hit.
It's a shame the Red Stripe Bowl has fallen through for Canada
It's unfortunate - the standard between Associate and Test level is a huge difference. The more cricket you play at a higher level the better for us, if you want to prepare for South Africa.
Scotland went through the early stages unscathed and no obvious signs of
what was to come.
Not really, no - we had performed quite well, and it was only when we got to the crunch matches really.
Some people have said the Scottish side lost their nerve after losing to
Namibia. Did it break the team's spirit?
It was a big, big match and we got so close, and didn't quite get there, we were nine runs short with two overs to go, and three wickets in hand and we didn't get another run. It was very disappointing, yeah. Whether it had a huge impact on the Canadian game, I would have to say it probably did.
Did you go in the Canadian match fairly confident?
Well, we had beaten them before - we were never over-confident that's for sure - at the end of the day it turned out that we didn't perform.
Has the way the whole thing turned out prompted a review of how things
should be done in future?
Yes, I think we're looking at the buildup and what happened here in domestic cricket.
Did the visa situation affect weaken the side or its morale? Of course it did - we had two of our regular players - two of our best batsmen were not in the side - including Miraj Khaliq ...... . It did affect morale certainly because until the last day we didn't know whether we were going or not. The visa issue was so bad we didn't know what was happening and we were practising out in the heat. It was very disturbing.
Considering the absence of four players, were you happy with how the side
After the way we started the tournament and where we reached, it was an achievement in itself. We were almost out of the tournament and we had to play Uganda to play in the Second Round. In the second round we did well - we started clicking. It was unfortunate we lost the game against Namibia or even against Canada. Either of those matches would have helped us going into the third place play-off. Otherwise we did pretty well taking into consideration all the problems before going and due to which we missed our tour to England which would have been very helpful to us. When we take that all into account, I think we did pretty well.
Which individual players stood out
Ahmed Nadeem bowled well and batted brilliantly, an expat, Arshad Ali, got a hundred in one of the matches and Asim Saeed, and all-rounder, went well.
What were the no-so-good things about the team's performance?
Nothing really, except we suffered through lack of match practice. My team came so close to qualifying for the World Cup and we missed out. Secondly, those two games which were so crucial against Canada and Namibia. Against Canada we had the upper hand and so we did against Namibia. but we threw them away. We had a great start against Namibia and we had to defend 17 runs in two overs against Canada.
You (Denmark) led your group in the inital phase - did that raise hopes
you may be able to qualify for the World Cup? In reflection was it a weaker
Our goal from the start of the ICC tournament where to finish in the top three and thereby get the "ticket" for the World Cup in South Africa 2003. I don't believe there were any weak groups in Division A.- all the matches were played hard, but in the right spirit. All the teams were good in the field and the same goes for the quality of wrist/spin bowling during the tournament. Only a handful of batters impressed me during the tournament.
What were the team's strengths and weaknesses?
I was really pleased that the Danish played as a team - worked really hard - showed plenty of commitment in the field. I like to think that the Danish team fielding and bowling were amongst the best in the tournament. A pity that our batters were finding it difficult to play spin on a turning turf pitch. - more turf pitches in Denmark is one way forward for Danish Cricket.
What was the most positive thing that came out of the tournament for
The most positive thing which game out of the tournament was that the Danish team left Canada with their heads high, the team was so close, but the batting let the team down. The team played some great matches during the first week, and the team gained a lot of respect for their attitude and fighting spirit during those matches.
Which players especially pleased you?
I was pleased about a number of players during the tournament, the captain Morten Hedegaard did a fine job as captain, vice-captain Soren Vestergaard was amongst the leading wicket-takers in the ICC tournament and young Amjad Khan have learnt a lot from this tournament, hopefully Kent CC will benefit from it in coming seasons.
Are there any long term players bowing out?
Lejf Slipsager has played his last game for Denmark. The grand old man in the team has been a great teamplayer. Lejf is going to be hard act to follow. If the team can stay together there's every chance, that all the hard work leading up to the ICC Trophy, won't be wasted, the talent is there, and the team spirit is first class, we just need one or two of the top order batters to produce some more runs. It's been great working with the players in the Danish national team, the farewell reception I was given by the players absolutely brilliant, best of luck in the future to the lads.
How do you think the side went overall? We were able to get to the second round but nothing much happened after that. But under the circumstances we didn't do too bad.
What do you mean 'under the circumstances'?
Well, I think the preparation prior to the tournament was not as adequate as we would have liked. We didn't really have any proper training or match practice. The first time the team really played together was in the tournament itself. So, there was a lack of cohesiveness. It got a little bit better, but the time was short. Other teams like Canada to Sri Lanka & MCC in Bermuda had tours.
Apart from the openers, the batting wasn't too outstanding - is that a
Yes, there was some inconsistency - there were batsmen getting a couple of good scores, but not consistently and that set us back.
Do you think if the team played to its potential, you could have beaten
more teams, or were they simply better?
When we played Scotland the umpire, Rudi Koertzen from South Africa, said he could tell we wre not properly prepared but we had the raw talent.
How was the bowling and fielding
The fielding was what let us down & some players had injuries. We bowled fairly well - what let us down was not getting big scores and our fielding.
What were the bright spots to come out of it
The experience which the younger players will carry on from it to further ICC tournaments and we qualify as an ICC fast track country because we came in seventh.
Who were the better players?
Dave Wallace had a couple of solid knocks while Naseer Islam was one of the most economical bowlers in the tournament.
Obviously the end result was disappointing
The fact we finished eighth was disappointing but the gap between the Dutch who won the tournament and us who supposedly finished last in the Super Eight - they beat us by one run in a game we threw away - 50 off the last 10 with six wickets left so I think that it was a measure of the difference between the teams in the last eight. It was disappointing for us because we hadn't performed well.
There seems to be a lot of talk since the team arrived home about the
structure of Irish cricket
I am one who would very much advocate that the structure needs to be changed, especially going from club cricket to international cricket. In my opinion we need an expanded provincial structure and I know there's talk of a national club league as well. I still believe the best test for Irish criicketers would be a provincial rather than a club setup.
How did the "Dekker" Curry situation affect the mood of the squad?
Well, it didn't particularly affect the mood of things - obviously it was an incident we could have done without. What it eventually did do with Dekker going home - we then had quite a few serious injuries - so we ended up picking from 11 regardless of form and fitness - and obviously didn't help too much in terms of what you can do, not in terms of morale - but in overall terms of the strength of the side.
The bowling didn't meet expectations - fair comment?
That's a very fair comment. During the buildup we thought the bowling would be our strength. However, we failed to defend 283 against the UAE.
So who do you think were the better players?
Ed Joyce, playing First Class cricket for Middlesex now, was outstanding. He averaged 71 and his little brother Dominic had a great tournament, and Jason Molins also had a great tournament.
Presumably, the players and management would have had expectations of at
least defeating teams like the US, Bermuda and possibly Denmark. How did
the team's results match the pre-tournament expectations?
Pre-tournament expectations were that we had a competitive side that hopefully could go three places higher on our seeding and qualify for the World Cup. The results were disappointing on this basis and were a reflection of not playing as well as we could have and also overestimating our ability against our competition for those three spots. The games we lost, we lost by considerable margins, but some of our opposition, we could have done a lot better against.
From the scorecards one problem seemed to be that although there were a
lot of single figure scores, those who made 30s, 40s, went on with it. Is
We didn't have many players go on from thirties or forties which implies that we didn't capitalise on starts. We seemed to lack players who could make sizable scores at that level - partly due to being out of form, and partly due to lack of experience/ability at that level.
None of the opposition teams were bowled out. Was that a reflection of
the team's bowling and/or fielding.
We didn't have a lot of penetration in our bowling, though not many teams did on mostly good wickets. We certainly struggled comparitively with our fielding and this made it hard for us to apply pressure which is where most wickets come from in one-day cricket.
Who were the better players for Hong Kong?
Rahul Sharma was our top run-scorer, Jawaid Iqbal bowled steadily, and Tabarak Dar performed well when given the chance.
The performance of Namibia in this tournament showed what effect playing competitive cricket at a higher level on a reasonably regular basis can have. HK do reasonably well in South East Asia, but in the last seven or so years we have had little experience playing teams that stretch us by playing at a higher level. We need to play sides such as (or of equal ability as) Ireland, Denmark, USA, Canada etc. on a more regular basis. I believe this would be the need for most Associate country teams. Scores were not typically as high in this tournament as say scores in most One-day internationals. This I don't think is a reflection that the wickets weren't good or that the bowling was relatively better. I think it is because most of the batsmen in the tournament play 95% of their cricket at a much lower level where an altogether different style/approach is warranted (especially when they are far and away the best players in their club sides). Batting properly in international cricket requires a different style (running singles, less boundaries, scoring off good balls rather than waiting for bad balls) than playing club cricket. In contrast, professional international cricketers play 95% or more of their cricket in these conditions.
On another point, there is a big difference I think between players who play solely in their domestic country leagues, and those players who have had years of experience playing in Test country environments. This will be one of the biggest challenges to world-wide development. That is to develop a talent to its potential in a minor cricketing country, while lacking the same competitive environment that Test country player talents are exposed to.
Did the side do as well as anticipated?
It wasn't that we lost matches - it was how we lost some matches. I was a little bit disappointed at times because we were a lot better team than what we reflected on some occasions. we played very well against Singapore but we played terribly against Canada.
What do you think was the cause for that?
I don't think Fiji has had (a) enough competition and (b) of a reasonable standard. So one of the things we're trying to do as a result of that tournament is getting a lot more players playing in Australia and New Zealand so they develop their understanding of the fundamentals.
A point raised by another captain is that you can go from a club
competition where teams bat 20-30 overs to having to bat 50 overs.
The difficulty Fiji is experiencing at the moment is that it doesn't have an organised club competition. For this tournament they had 12 months without any serious cricket. That's been recognised and made very clear to Fiji Cricket that they need more competition infrastructure & I think Matthew Kennedy is working towards that.
Cliche question - what were the side's strengths?
Our strength was really our bowling - on most days we bowled very well - Scotland were one of the stronger teams and I thought we bowled very well to their batsmen to have them four and almost five down chasing our 40. we set them. I thought that was a reflection of our ability but where we really fell down was our ability to bat for a big time, experience on turf was another factor & from time to time our catching was either brilliant or shocking.
So who were the better players?
Colin Rika was a huge improver throughout the tournament - he'll become a key member of the Fijian team.
Before leaving Singapore, presumably expectations were not that high. Did
the side play better or worse than anticipated?
Actually, I don't think we did as well as we should have but we had quite a young side and I think it was a big learning experience for them for the better. There were a lot of 20 year olds and one 15 year old and for them they put it down as experience and when they go to the next one [tournament] they will be better players. It was a little disappointing from my part as well - it was the first time I haven't performed at the national level - I failed really badly. I thought I let the side down in that way. Other than that it was a learning curve for them.
So everybody was reasonably happy in the context of things - this was
virtually what Bruce Yardley has said - it was a rebuilding stage?
Yes we are. In fact, when I look back now to the local league, the young boys are doing well and this is [because] of what Bruce has done for the young boys. They are on their own now [as a separate team] and don't play with the seniors at all. They are doing pretty well and in fact they have beaten a couple of sides in the First Division league. I put it down to the good job done by Bruce. I just hope we can get a few more young guys coming through the system - but we have a problem with National Service where we always lose young players. That really messes up the plans that we have. There are a couple of good young boys coming through, so I hope they do well.
Looking at the team's play and individual performances, what were the
Individual performances - I would single out Joshua Dearing as he had a very nice knock against Canada as well as top scoring against Holland. We did underperform a little but we were outside our league playing in the First Divisiion but it was a learning experience.
So how was Bruce Yardley as coach?
He was very good actually as he brought a lot out of the boys and let them believe in themselves. If we can get his coach to carry on his work for the next 3-4 years, then Singapore could do quite well.
How would you describe Papua New Guinea's performance generally?
Our performance in Canada was ordinary. After beating the USA, I thought we were going all the way. Basically our batting has always been a major problem. Early order batsmen failing to score. Only Arua Uda stood his ground and wickets fell around him. Jamie Brazier started off well against the US but was brilliantly caught. He didn't get past 20 after three games, That was a bit disappointing but that's cricket.
Was experience in batting out 50 overs a factor?
Our batsmen struggled in the all the matches. I don't know if it was the pitch or lack of concentration. But everytime we batted we always got out playing the wrong shot. Also batting out the 50 overs. In all our international tournaments we don't bat our 50 overs. There are a lot of us in the team that want to hit every ball over the fence. Lots of ability, but not enough patience. With PNG cricket everyone wants to hit the ball very hard. In bowling, I reckon this was the worst performance our bowlers showed, apart from our veteran Tuku Raka. None of the opening bowlers got a wicket. We've been renowned for our fielding & bowling. This is no excuse, but I thought the weather was a problem. In our first game it was 31 degrees, the next day it went down to 9 degrees, 13 degrees the following day. Like I said that is no excuse.
How did the team's preparation affect morale?
Our preparation coming into this tournament was good. Everything was paid for, our equipment, the gear we wore. Morale was good, we were all fired up. After beating the US, next game against Bermuda we were flat.
You were there at previous ICC Trophy campaigns - what was it like to
experience such success at last? What has it done for Argentine cricket?
I agree on that the team experienced success. Winning four games out of five has been a good record, especially having won all four in the last over. But I also think that we have gone through success before (Kenya 1994). Although I have to be happy with our performance in Toronto, I must recognise that I wanted more, badly. I know, and have a feeling deep inside that with this team we can beat some of the teams that got to the final round (top eight). It was just one game, one day that left us without the chance of playing the top eight. Anyway, our cricket community is very happy with what we have done and is convinced that this successful performance is going to boost the game forward in my country.
It seems the team adopted a very positive, bold approach - is that
We have always had a positive approach but this is never enough on its own. Positive approach should appear naturally and as a consequence of responsible, professional and committed preparation as a team and individually. Once you feel in peace and proud of your dedication your approach is naturally positive. This time we prepared ourselves more professionally with Grant Dugmore and Tom Burton (the best physical coach I ever had in my life on all sports I practised) and we harvested better results without even realising we all players have become better cricketers and a much more solid team.
Did the team expect that it could beat Malaysia? How did it feel?
I always expected to beat Malaysia because I had to wait for 4 years and 3 months since they beat us at the ICC Trophy held at their country. I walked on the field in Toronto seeking revenge for that game in Kuala Lumpur that we should have never lost. When the game finished I felt in peace with myself because only then I could tell that what I believed 4 years ago was not fantasy.
What were the team's strengths?
Batting. Good balance between experienced batsmen, youngsters with fantastic technique and power to send the ball out of the ground. (Seven batsmen scored at least one six). Our batting attack is for sure within the top eight. No doubt.
What were its weaknesses - catching perhaps?
Bowling. Our opening bowlers have excellent technique and rythm but they lack experience so consistency is affected. Many bowling changes have to be done very frequently and fielders lose concentration as it becomes difficult to follow and read the game and position themselves exactly on the spot on the field to anticipate the shots. Then obviously some catches can be dropped. But I must say that my players as catchers are all very good and natural.
How was the whole experience of being at the tournament?
Passionate. For me, as captain, beautiful. I learnt through the years to enjoy every second of this game in a very relaxed and tranquil way. It was fun.
Malaysia went into the tournament as probable favourites in your group.
Did the team underestimate Uganda and the others?
No we didn't. Well before the tournament started, we knew that Uganda was going to be the crucial match. Our initial efforts on the day were brilliant. Our bowling and fielding was probably at its best I've seen for the last few tournaments. At 80-8, we were looking well towards our goal of keeping them down to below 180. Then it all went wrong ! The "Kamyuka" innings is something I have great difficulty in believing and understanding till today. I don't think I'll see an innings like that from a number 10 for the rest of my life. The guy came in and looked to be struggling initially as our tight bowling/fielding coupled with the pressure seemed to be getting to him. We all thought it was just going to be a matter of time.
Somewhere along the way he must have decided that the best form of defence was going to be attack !!! ...and attack he did. He started hitting the ball hard and straight. Swing from the hip! Gaining more and more confidence with every hit. Before we knew it he was on 50, with the team score still at a precarious 120 odd, we still felt it was our game. He never stopped though, and he never gave us a chance as he accelerated to his 100 with brute force. Together with his partner, they shared a record unbroken partnership of about 140 runs. It was an amazing innings especially since you consider the odds that we're stacked against him at that point. It was really unfortunate that we had to suffer this at such a crucial match. The records just went tumbling one after another. Fastest 100, biggest partnership, highest score for a number 10, most sixes, etc.etc.etc. day. The worse part was that he hardly got any runs at all after that against much weaker opposition.
We still should have got the 224 odd runs but, everyone seemed in such a shock.
I understand catching was decisive in the matches against Uganda and
Against Uganda, we dropped ONE very easy and crucial catch at about 95-8. Unfortunately, it wasn't Kamyuka, but the other bloke on the other end. As I said before Kamyuka never gave us a chance. (which is why the innings was spectacular). However, the catch was still crucial as, had we swallowed it, it would have meant no. 11 coming in next and anything could have happened.
Against Argentina, it was a disappointing effort. Here we dropped about 3-4 easy catches which went straight to hand. To make matters worse we bowled a lot of extras as well. Easily our worse day on the field. I don't know if the fact that we were already out of the running by then, had anything to do with it. I don't think so, (and I hope not) as I hate making excuses for myself and the team. Argentina played very well and deserved to win. They seemed more hungry for the victory.
We pride ourselves on our fielding, and it was disappointing that this was the department that let us down badly.
Who were the team's better performers and why?
There were a couple of guys who had a reasonable tournament, but in general nobody really got going. As a team we were inconsistent and couldn't adjust to the local conditions fast enough. Rakesh Madhavan - probably our best bat in the team. Did well with another 100 (his 5th) and finished off with ave 40+. S.Vickneswaran - Bowled beautifully! At 17 he is going to be a really key player for us in the future.Considering the fact that he wasn't even going to feature in the team initially, he finished off with 9 wkts having bowled superbly with good pace. Vishnu Suppiah - For a long time now he has been our best spinner. Also finished with 9 wkts. Should have had more! Very reliable and picked up wkts at a very economical rate. Also our best bowler in Sharjah. Only 20.Everyone else had one or two good days here and there. Consistency was a problem, and the results will show that.
Even so, we had a few things to be proud of. After the first round matches:
Not much, but some positive espects to reflect on.
What was the overall experience like on and off the field?
Going to an ICC Trophy is like a World Cup for the non-Test nations. It's a great experience and a fantastic atmosphere. It's a pity this is the last one as the opportunity to play and meet players from some of these countries is going to be close to nil after this. Now we will only be playing countries in our region for qualifiers, and for those who don't progress further, won't get a chance to play and meet the others.
Are there any players retiring?
There has been talk of retirement from a few older players, but nothing official yet. I know that the MCA is now planning to increase the pool with more younger boys and a complete revamp may be on the cards to find a solution to our problem - winning matches ! It has been very frustrating to get into good strong positions but somehow unable to win matches.Since Sharjah (and even before that) it has happened too often for my liking and must be rectified soon if we are going to make waves at a higher level.
Looking back, how did the competition go overall for Gibraltar?
It was a bit disappointing - it was a shame the West Africans and Italians weren't there - they were arguably weaker than us. We took a fairly young side - our opening bowlers did well - 18 year old Gareth Balban and Steve Carey who had one of the better economy rates in the competition.were our better players.
What did you think of the new Second Division format?
It worked well - mismatches were avoided with the exception of Namibia, but we knew they should have been in a higher group, except for a bad tournament in Malaysia.
How close did the performances come to meeting expectations?
We trained pretty hard and had a couple of withdrawals through injury and guys not being able to get time off work. If we had had them we would have beaten Germany and Nepal What was the most positive aspect of the tournament for Gibraltar?
It was a totally indigenous side with eight or so guys under the age of 23.
How did the team feel about playing in a tournament of such stature?
Thrilled, naturally, especially as this was France's first participation in the ICC Trophy. It was a terrific reward for players for all the sacrifices needed to play international cricket at purely amateur level. Three of our squad, the Brumant brothers Guy and Val, and myself, have been part of the French national side since its launch in 1989, so the ICC Trophy was a wonderful climax to our careers.
France won three ECF European Champions' titles in the mid-1990s, and took part in the ECC European Championships in 1998 and 2000, but the standard of opposition in Canada was markedly stronger, and higher than we expected. That may have been the case for other emerging European nations, too: Germany won just one game like ourselves, while Israel and Gibraltar went home winless. Uganda surprised many and their bowling was too tight for us, though we did well to dismiss them for 166. Malaysia were just too good for us, as we feared.
The event was well-organised and the team enjoyed it immensely. Ball-by-ball coverage on CricInfo added to the fun and kept many cricket-lovers in France behind their computer screens deep into the night. With messages of encouragement e-mailed across daily, the squad felt in close touch with fans back home. It was probably easier to follow the games on the Net than at the grounds, where scoreboard operators were non-existent! Our other criticism would be the continual changes of pitch surface-from grass to slow low matting, with net practice on bouncy astroturf.
In their debut what were the main lessons learnt by the players?
The striking aspect of successful sides at the ICC Trophy was their ability to perform to a disciplined game-plan, generally based on bowling a tight off-stump line, with very few short balls or half-volleys; and the ability of batsmen to work good bowling through skilful placement and sharp running. These were certainly areas in which we were outplayed by Argentina, who beat us by just 6 runs, which suggests that in terms of individual talent we were probably better.
Our batting technique against spin was poor and too many batsmen hit across the line. Our seam bowling was inadequate and we were seldom threatening with the new ball, but our two offspinners bowled marvellously. Our technical shortcomings are almost inevitable given the absence of serious coaching, practice facilities and high-quality league cricket in France, and it may take several years of hard work for an effective difference to be made at national team level.
We took the chance to study how other countries practised, and were particularly impressed by the fielding and bowling drills used by Namibia.
Who were the better players and why, and the lessons learnt by the
management about future selection policy?
The 2001 ICC Trophy marks a watershed for the Equipe de France. There are no major short-term objectives and we can now adopt a long-term approach, with the next ICC Trophy in four years' time our next significant goal.
France have always been keen to encourage youngsters-Chauny keeper Mathieu Royant made his debut for the national senior side at 12(!) and that policy was vindicated in Toronto by the offspin bowling of Sulanga Richmond, aged 17, who took 4-42 against Uganda, and by Arun Ayyavooraju who, at just 15, looked our most correct batsman against both Malaysia and Namibia. Another French-born batsman to impress was Gareth Edwards, 22, now showing greater application to accompany his straight-bat technique.
Offspinner Guy Brumant had superb tournament figures of 10 wickets for 153, while Shabir Hussain and myself were our only two batsmen to score 50s and total over 100 runs. Some of our senior players disappointed with bat and ball, and looked slow in the field. With the exception of Guy and Shabir, we'll now be looking to build up a side of players in their teens and 20s, to reach maturity by 2005. Results may take a dip in the short-term. We accept that.
We'll also be looking to conduct squad affairs exclusively in French from now on. Up till now the squad has, of necessity, had English-speaking coaches. Widespread use of English at squad get-togethers has been inevitable, but it's clear that this was not always helpful to squad unity, cohesion or efficiency.
We'll also be looking to appoint a strong, long-term back-up team of Coach, Physio and Scorer. The Physio will monitor players' individual fitness throughout the year, and the Scorer will use the latest computer software to provide full statistical analyses of all aspects of performance.
Did the revised ICC Trophy format suit Israel?
I thought it was a good idea - it borught teams of the same level against each other - it was easier for the team knowing they weren't going to lose by a lot of runs. Each time you knew you had a chance of winning rather than getting smashed.
Did the side do as well as expected?
No - they should have won three out of the five games - but they didn't lose as heavily as in the past. They should have beaten France, Argentina & East Africa, but they didn't.
Was there a consistency about the performances in both positives and
Well, first you must realise we weren't able to include a few players in the side because of restrictions. It was a learning curve, we had hit the bottom and waiting to go up - we have about seven guys under 25 and waiting to take their place. We may have lost from a statistical point of view but we have cause for a brighter, more promising future in the next few years. If you want to live in Israel you have to be optimistic.
Where does Israeli cricket go from here?
The MCC are coming out in October and then there's the European Champiosnhips next year. We are changing our whole league structure - we are only going to play zonal - [similar to] league, Sheffield Shield then Test side. No more unbalanced games.