ICC tournament for Associates could be in jeopardy

By RON FANFAIR

Judging by International Cricket Council’s (ICC) High Performance manager Richard Done’s non-commitment, the four-day Intercontinental Cup tournament for Associates could be in jeopardy.

In an interview with Share last week, Australian-born Done continued to advocate for the Associate members to play the longer version of the sport.

The ICC however is yet to determine whether there will be a fifth edition of the tournament next year.

“At this point, there is no decision on how the I-Cup is going to be for the next year,” he said. “There are obviously some decisions to be made around the ICC in terms of the future context of the game and where everything fits, so we are going to hold off until we have got a little bit more information over the next couple of months.

“The four-day game is important for building skills and there is a place for it. It would be drastic to say there is not going to be a four-day competition.”

The 2009-10 final takes place in Dubai in late November.

The four Associate countries preparing for next year’s World Cup – Ireland, Kenya, The Netherlands and Canada – are at the bottom of the points table. Ireland needs to win its final match against the Zimbabwe XI later this month to have a chance of competing for its fourth straight title while Canada, the runner-up in 2004 and 2006-7, was winless with just nine points from its allotted six matches.

“As far as Canada is concerned, obviously they have struggled this year and that probably might have to do with the addition of Zimbabwe which is a quality side,” said Done. “It’s however interesting that all four Associate World Cup-bound sides are at the bottom of the table. Whether that’s an issue of focus for them and there is more attention to the one-day game than the four-day game, I doubt that’s the case.

“I think it’s a little more experimenting going on with the four teams in terms of trying to check players out and see how they are going. There are some other issues with the volume of cricket as well for those sides…I still think the four-day game is important in terms of developing the skills of the game. When you look at the 20-over game, it is the skilled players who perform better and the same applies in the 50-over game.

“You need to have good skills in terms of working the ball away in the middle overs, bowling in good areas and taking wickets early. All those things are part of what you try to do in four-day cricket.”

Prior to the match against the Irish three weeks ago, national captain Ashish Bagai said the majority of his players are not used to the four-day format and Canada has not fielded its strongest unit because the players with full-time jobs use their vacation for the limited-overs tournaments.

Done was in Toronto to oversee the national team’s preparation for the World Cup that runs from February 19 to April 2 in India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.

“I am in the middle of visiting each of the four Associate World Cup teams to deal with outstanding issues of which there are a number in each of the countries,” he said. “I am also looking at what other resources we need to put in place to get the teams to the World Cup in good shape. We have got some challenges. It’s obviously a big stage and we are going to play six games in the first round as opposed to just three in the last World Cup in the Caribbean which means there is going to be a lot of cricket and teams need to be fit, pretty well drilled and know their roles. There is a fair bit of stuff that needs to be put in place, but we are making steady progress.”

Done said he’s disappointed that Canada was unable to land the 2012 Under-19 World Cup. Last April, Cricket Canada declared its inability to host the competition, opening the door for Argentina to step in.

“I would like to think that part of the role of allocating events is to grow the game,” said the former Queensland Academy of Excellence head coach who played 10 first-class matches. “You need to have the facilities to do that and, to be honest, I don’t think Canada has that. To put it bluntly, the environment around trying to get it wasn’t the strongest. They are all part of issues as to why it did not happen. The bottom line though is you need high quality facilities and at this stage in Canada there is not enough high quality turf pitches to take that on.”

The last major tournament Canada hosted was the ICC Trophy tournament for Associates in 2001.

 

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