Bermuda, Hong Kong, Italy Jersey, Kenya, and Uganda began their long road to World Cup Qualification when they squared off in Group B of the Cricket World Cup Challenge League in Al Amerat, Oman from December 2-12.
It was the first of three round-robin legs with the next two rounds planned for July and August 2020 in Uganda, and sometime in 2021 at a location yet to be determined.
The winner after three rounds of CWC Challenge League B will be joined by the winner of Group A and the bottom four teams from CWC League 2 at the 2022 CWC Qualifier Play-of. The top two teams from the Play-off will advance to the World Cup Qualifier in 2022, a 10-team tournament that mirrors the Qualifiers played in 2018.
The top two teams from this final qualifying stage will progress to cricket’s showpiece event in 2023.
CWC Challenge League B team previews
Since their maiden World Cup appearance in 2007, Bermuda has gradually slipped down the tiers of the World Cricket League. They would have been relegated to Division 5—after finishing at the bottom of WCL Division 4 in 2018— had the WCL structure not been replaced the Challenge League.
They head to Oman off the back of a winless 6-game campaign at the T20 World Cup Global Qualifiers in the UAE, where they failed to build on their twin victories against the USA in Americas Regional finals.
To add to their woes, Vice-Captain Rodney Trott has been removed from the squad after Omani Immigration authorities discovered that his passport would expire in less than 6 months.
While their bowling is steady, the island nation’s batting line-up looks paper-thin. Their chances of finishing in the top half of the table, let alone qualifying for the Play-off, look slim unless the likes of Okera Bascome and skipper Terryn Fray can lend some much-needed support to Delray Rawlins and Kamau Leverock.
However, Bermuda is not the only team in the tournament with batting concerns, and in what is likely to be a low-scoring tournament on the dry pitches of Al Amerat, rule them out at your own peril.
Squad: Terryn Fray(Captain), Okera Bascome, Onais Bascome, Derrick Brangman, Zeko Burgess, Duente Darrell, Coolidge Durham, Kyle Hodsoll, Kamau Leverock, Tre Manders, Justin Pitcher, Delray Rawlins, Pierre Smith, Sinclair Smith, Dion Stovell
January 2017: that’s when it all started. The East Asians lost a pair of tight games to the Netherlands at the World Cricket League Championship. Had they emerged victorious in either of those games, they would have grabbed the 13th spot in the ICC Cricket World Cup Super League and retained their ODI status, which they lost when they finished last at the 50-over World Cup Qualifiers the following year.
Hong Kong’s heartbreak continued when they failed to regain ODI status in WCL Division 2 in 2019, where they finished last once again. All of this has resulted in a decrease in funding, which contributed to the ambitious Anshy Rath’s decision to pursue a First-Class Career in India.
To add to their woes, in the last few years they’ve lost 3 first-team players to match-fixing, 3 more to a player revolt, and Jamie Atkinson and Scott McKechnie are unavailable for this round due to work commitments.
Despite losing their first three games at the T20 World Cup Qualifiers, they bounced back with three consecutive victories. They almost made it to the T20 World Cup when they reduced Oman to 42-6 in the first 9 overs of Play-off 4. However, they leaked 50 runs in the last 3 overs with the ball and lost half their side for 18 in reply to stumble at the final hurdle.
Despite heartbreak after heartbreak and their exhausting list of absentees, Hong Kong look poised to finish in the top half of the Group B table.
However, their batting will once again revolve around Nizakat Khan—who scored a mature 93 in that famous game against India at the Asia Cup—and Kinchit Shah, who is arguably in the form of his life. Shahid Wasif, will also be looking to build on his impressive 68 against an Indian XI in the recently concluded ACC Emerging Teams Cup.
In the absence of fast bowling brothers Tanveer Ahmed and Ehsan Nawaz, mainstays Ehsan Khan and skipper Aizaz will be hoping for support from the likes of teenage seamer Nasrulla Rana, Kinchit Shah, and Haroon Arshad.
Squad: Aizaz Khan (Captain), Ahsan Abbasi, Haroon Arshad, Waqas Barkat, Aarush Bhagwat, Adit Gorawara, Aftab Hussain, Raunaq Kapur, Ehsan Khan, Nizakat Khan, Hassan Khan Mohammad, Nasrulla Rana, Kinchit Shah, Shahid Wasif
Italy can count themselves lucky to even be a part of the Challenge League. After finishing 4th in WCL Division 5, they were due to be relegated to regional competitions along with those that finished below them. However, when the WCL was scrapped and replaced with the Challenge League to be played by Associates ranked 21-32, they scraped through by virtue of being ranked 32nd.
The absences of off-spinning all-rounder Carl Sandri, star batsman Damian Crowley, Peter Petricola, and outgoing skipper Gayashan Munasinghe, will undoubtedly hamper the Azzurri’s ability to stay competitive.
However, they will be buoyed the return of Northamptonshire all-rounder Gareth Berg and the emergence of top-order bat Nicholas Maiolo, who can also bowl some tidy left-arm spin.
Keep an eye out for Nikolai Smith, the Cape Town-born top-order batsman who represents the Northern Knights in the Irish Inter-Provincial Championship.
However, unlike some teams in the Challenge League, Italy hasn’t had regular cricket against the world’s leading Associates, especially in the 50-over format. It’s hard to imagine them finishing in the top half of the table let alone going all the way to the Play-offs.
Squad: Joy Perera (Captain), Rehman Abdul, Gareth Berg, Zahid Cheema, Madupa Fernando, Luis di Giglio, Rakibul Hasan, Fida Hussain, Nicholas Maiolo, Gian-Piero Meade, Michael Ross, Jaspreet Singh, Manpreet Singh, Nikolai Smith
There is justified cause for optimism in the Jersey dressing room after their impressive T20 Global Qualifier campaign, where they registered victories against both the UAE and Oman. Despite narrowly missing out on the Play-off round based on NRR, the Chuggy Perchard-led side are favourites to finish in the top half of the table, with many punters backing them to go all the way.
In skipper Perchard, Dominic Blampied, and Ben Stevens, they boast one of the best spin bowling attacks in the tournament.
Stevens, who was Player of the Series in WCL 4, will also form part of Jersey’s batting core along with the exciting Jonty Jenner, who top-scored for Jersey at the recently concluded Qualifiers.
However, Jersey has tasted defeat across formats while chasing against Hong Kong, Bermuda, and Uganda respectively in the last year and a half. They also finished below the Cricket Cranes, Denmark, and Malaysia in WCL Division 4, their most recent multi-nation 50-over assignment.
Add to this their NRR-shattering defeats to Ireland and Canada at the Qualifiers in the UAE, and their road to the World Cup starts looking a lot less smooth.
Squad: Chuggy Perchard (Captain), Daniel Birrell, Corey Bisson, Dominic Blampied, Harrison Carlyon, Jake Dunford (wk), Nick Greenwood, Jonty Jenner, Elliot Miles, Rhys Palmer, William Robertson, Ben Stevens, Julius Sumerauer, Nathaniel Watkins,
The cash-strapped East African nation, will want nothing less than to top the group, head to the Play-offs, progress to the main qualifier, and fight their way into the sixth ever 50-over World Cup.
First of, though, they will have to contend with their mightiest opponent: themselves.
19-6 after 4 overs:
This is what Emmanuel Bundi and Lucas Oluoch reduced PNG to in their final group game of the T20 World Cup Qualifiers. However, they allowed PNG to post 118 before collapsing to 73 all out. Just days earlier, they had folded for 94 against Namibia.
The fallout of a disappointing campaign has led to the axing of Nelson Odhiambo, Elijah Otieno, and Alex Obanda; the last of which is puzzling considering how Kenya’s batting falls away after the number 5 position.
46-year-old Lameck Onyango has made an eyebrow-raising return to the Kenyan side, while Rushab Patel and Naman Patel will be hoping to make the most of the faith shown in them.
Irfan Karim and newcomer Aman Gandhi, who combined to flatten Singapore with a chanceless 110-run partnership, form one of the strongest opening pairs in the tournament. The experienced trio of Dhiren Gondaria, Collins Obuya, and Rakep Patel will follow them. Don’t be surprised, however, if one of these 5 bats out of position as insurance against a Kenyan collapse.
On the bowling front, they will look to Oluoch and Bundi to replicate their recent form with Shem Ngoche and Collins Obuya entrusted with drying up the runs in the middle overs.
Expect them to finish somewhere near the top of the table.
Squad: Jadhavji Bhimji, Sachin Bhudia, Emmanuel Bundi, Aman Gandhi, Dhiren Gondaria, Irfan Karim, Shem Ngoche, Collins Obuya, Nehemiah Odhiambo, Lucas Oluoch, Lameck Onyango, Naman Patel, Rakep Patel, Rushab Patel
(By Denis Musali)
Brian Masaba will captain Uganda at the ICC Cricket World Cup Challenge League B tournament in Oman. Uganda does not have very good memories of Oman after finishing bottom of the group at the Div 3 qualifiers last year.
However, since then Roger Mukasa was stripped of the captaincy with Brian Masaba tasked with job for the long term.
The 14-man cricket cranes squad contains eleven players who were part of the failed campaign in 2019, and they will look to make amends. The players have been preparing for the last six months with head coach Steve Tikolo and his assistant Jackson Ogwang.
There is one surprise in the 14-man squad with top order batsman Hamu Kayondo missing out due to an injury he picked up on the buildup tour in Zimbabwe.
The selectors have chosen a squad full of experience with veteran spinner Frank Nsubuga alongside left-arm seamer Charles Waiswa and former captain Roger Mukasa. The recall of Shahzad Ukani will add more runs to the side after he missed previous tournaments due to a tight work schedule.
A lot is expected from Ronak Patel who had a forgettable experience in Oman last year, his experience at this level will prove key in helping stabilize the top order.
Dinesh Nakrani and Riazat Ali Shah have had a good understanding in the middle order and if they can click they can score runs fast. Bilal Hassan and Richard Agamire will fight for opening bowling spots with the spin duo of Henry Ssenyondo and Frank Nsubuga providing the slow option.
Uganda will look to finish at least among the top four sides in the first round of the Challenge League with the second round scheduled to take place in Kampala next year.
The Cricket Cranes left Uganda on Friday 29th for the desert nation and will play their first game on Dec 2nd against Jersey.
Squad: Brian Masaba (Captain), Roger Mukasa, Arnold Otwani, Frank Nsubuga, Riazat Ali Shah, Dinesh Nakrani, Ronak Patel, Shahzad Ukani, Bilal Hassan, Richard Agamire, Charles Waiswa, Fred Achelam, Kenneth Waiswa, Henry Ssenyondo.
CWC Challenge League B schedule
All matches start at 9.30am (GMT + 4).
|Day/Date||Al Amerat 1||Al Amerat 2|
|MON 2/12||Uganda beat Jersey||N/A|
|TUE 3/12||Italy beat Kenya||Hong Kong beat Bermuda|
|WED 4/12||REST DAY|
|THU 5/12||Hong Kong beat Jersey||Uganda beat Kenya|
|FRI 6/12||Uganda beat Bermuda||Jersey beat Italy|
|SAT 7/12||REST DAY|
|SUN 8/12||Italy v Hong Kong (n/r)||Bermuda v Kenya (n/r)|
|MON 9/12||Kenya beat Jersey||Uganda beat Italy|
|TUE 10/12||REST DAY|
|WED 11/12||Uganda beat Hong Kong||Jersey beat Bermuda|
|THU 12/12||Bermuda v Italy||Hong Kong v Kenya|
CWC Challenge League B squads, Round 1:
Bermuda – Terryn Fray (c), Rodney Trott (vc), Okera Bascome, Onais Bascome, Derrick Brangman, Zeko Burgess, Deunte Darrell, Kyle Hodsoll, Kamau Leverock, Tre Manders, Justin Pitcher, Delray Rawlins, Pierre Smith, Sinclair Smith, Dion Stovell
Hong Kong – Aizaz Khan (c), Ahsan Abbasi, Haroon Arshad, Waqas Barkat, Aarush Bhagwat, Adit Gorawara, Aftab Hussain, Raunaq Kapur, Ehsan Khan, Nizakat Khan, Hassan Khan, Nasrulla Rana, Kinchit Shah, Shahid Wasif
Italy – Joy Perera (c), Rehman Abdul, Gareth Berg, Zahid Cheema, Madupa Fernando, Luis di Giglio, Rakibul Hasan, Fida Hussain, Nicholas Maiolo, Gian-Piero Meade, Michael Ross, Jaspreet Singh, Manpreet Singh, Nikolai Smith
Jersey – Charles Perchard (c), Daniel Birrell, Corey Bisson, Dominic Blampied, Harrison Carlyon, Jake Dunford (wk), Nick Greenwood, Jonty Jenner, Elliot Miles, Rhys Palmer, William Robertson, Ben Stevens, Julius Sumerauer, Nathaniel Watkin
Kenya – Jadhavji Bhimji, Sachin Bhudia, Emmanuel Bundi, Aman Gandhi, Dhiren Gondaria, Irfan Karim, Shem Ngoche, Collins Obuya, Nehemiah Odhiambo, Lucas Oluoch, Lameck Onyango, Naman Patel, Rakep Patel, Rushab Patel
Uganda – Brian Masaba (c), Fred Achelam, Richard Agamire, Bilal Hassan, Roger Mukasa, Dinesh Nakrani, Frank Nsubuga, Arnold Otwani, Ronak Patel, Riazat Ali Shah, Henry Ssenyondo, Shahzad Ukani, Charles Waiswa, Kenneth Waiswa