Fourteen teams travelled to the UAE for the global qualifiers hoping to pick up one of the six places on offer at the 2020 Men’s T20 World Cup.
The money rounds of perhaps the last such event have come to a close.
We have six qualifiers: Papua New Guinea, Ireland, Netherlands, Namibia, Scotland & Oman.
Another Barramundi miracle
In the Dubai-based Group A, Papua New Guinea had come off losing eight ODIs in two months across two rounds of CWC League 2. Their mantra coming into this event was “New Barras”, and even if they did make a point of saying T20 was their preferred format, none of the pundits had them in the six to go to Australia next year.
Oh, how we were wrong. We’re sorry.
From the first game in this event, a different PNG side was indeed out there in the middle. Opening stands from Vala and Ura of 90* and 125, helped dispatch Bermuda and Nambia and the all-round performance of Vanua saw a hattrick in game one and his maiden T20I 50, scored while helping the side recover from 19 for 6 in the final group game against Kenya, was his second POTM performance. He follwed this up with a third gong in the semi-final.
After near-misses for the 2014 & 2016 events, next year will be PNG’s first-ever men’s World Cup. By finishing first in their group of seven, they not only went straight to the semi-final, where they beat Namibia, but also gained an automatic ticket to Australia.
The luck of the Irish
As it was in 2015, Ireland has topped their group, Steven Bradbury style, after last day results went in their favour. Four years ago it was PNG and Namibia who fell at the final hurdle (to the USA and Hong Kong respectively) that handed the Irish top spot and a berth at another World Cup.
Fast forward to 2019, in Abu Dhabi’s Group B, it was Oman – who inexplicably dropped their last game to the plucky Jersey side, and Canada; undefeated after the first four matches, who lost to Hong Kong and the decimated UAE in their final matches to not only drop out of first place but out of contention for a ticket to the ‘big dance’.
Stirling was Ireland’s best with the blade again, while Mark Adair was the only Irish bowler to break double figures with the ball in the group stage, a testament to strength across the team to get the four wins required to top the group.
Hot Dutch in oven-like conditions
The well-documented chopping and changing in Ryan Campbell’s XI – from the outside anyway – projected an unsettled preparation. After dropping four matches in the Oman pentangular series – along with a number of injuries (meaning a number of players were placed on standby in the Netherlands) – many were left scratching their heads as to whether the Dutch team was a risk of not getting through the qualifier.
The arrival of Ryan ten Doeschate from a very successful county season and the improvement of some health scares saw the Dutch get off to a winning start, including bowling Namibia out for 96 in their second match.
An exasperated coach lamented a sub-par fielding performance that contributed to a loss against PNG – a result that cost Netherlands top spot. But with comprehensive wins over Bermuda and Scotland, and when the embattled UAE was swept aside in the crossover playoff, the Dutch booked their World Cup spot.
Cooper and O’Dowd were steady at the top, both scoring 150+ at a tick better than a run ball. Ten Doeschate and Ackermann both scored theirs at over 130, and the bowling unit was led by Brandon Glover and the convoy of three vans; Meekeren, der Merwe, der Gugten.
Twenty Nineteen, the year of Namibia
After achieving ODI status and an impressive start to the ODI League 2, a coveted spot at their first T20 World Cup has capped off what must be the most successful year in the South-Western African nation’s cricketing history.
All achieved under new coach Pierre de Bruyn with assistance from Albie Morkel, the team has evolved into a well-drilled focused unit, where everyone seems aware of (and comfortable in) their roles. AND THEY HAVE JJ SMIT.
You could argue they are still missing an out & out fast bowler, beyond the young Ben Shikongo but erratic but this would be clutching at straws. This is a very good white-ball team. With the likes of Kotze, Erasmus and Green through the order who can keep the rate up, and the likes of Frylicnk and Scholtz it is not inconceivable to see this team sneaking a Super 12 spot in Australia.
Stuttering Scotland get it done
After a warm-up tour to South Africa – rather than in gulf conditions – and players dropping like flies due to heat issues and food poisoning, Scotland lost half of their group matches, including game one to Singapore.
This left them in fourth and only a single bite at the World Cup cherry.
Thanks to the trusty blades of Munsey and Berrington the heavily-favoured Scots were able to get the job done for a very relieved skipper Kyle Coetzer, and they were able to snare fifth spot after a Matt Cross half-century chased down Oman’s total.
After only dropping the one group game – not being after to reel in Ireland’s 183 – Oman only needed to beat Jersey to guarantee top spot, a semi-final place and a ticket to Australia. They fell 14 runs short of Jersey’s 142 and were then comprehensively beaten by Namibia in their cross over match.
At 42 for 6 against Hong Kong in the eliminator play-off, Oman’s hopes for a place at a second World Cup seemed in tatters, but a defiant half-century from Jatinder Singh helped the Sultanate to 134 from their 20 overs, and three early wickets from Bilal Khan practically ended the Hong Kong chase before it got a chance to build up any steam and Oman was the last of the six qualifiers to seal a World Cup berth.