Associate nations leave a mark in an unforgettable 2022

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31 Dec 2022 | 08:58 AM
authorPramod Ananth

Associate nations leave a mark in an unforgettable 2022

A closer look at how the Netherlands, UAE, Namibia, and other countries fared this year

Like 2021, 2022 too provided the world a glimpse of what the associate nations are capable of. They grew from strength to strength, unraveled some new talents and also caused major upsets on the world stage. Like any other team, they too went through plenty of ups and downs, but for the most, 2022 was a year where the positives outweighed the negatives. 

Let’s take a look at how 2022 treated some of the associate nations.

Scotland

World Cup aspirations

Scotland had some moments both on and off the field. Their long-standing skipper Kyle Coetzer stepped down as captain, paving way for Richie Berrington to take over. Under Coetzer, Scotland had booked their place in the 2022 T20 World Cup, thanks to their qualification to the Super 12s in last year’s edition that included a win over Bangladesh.

This time though, they started their campaign with a comprehensive win over two-time champions West Indies, but then losses to Ireland and Zimbabwe meant their T20 World Cup 2022 ended in the first round. However, they can still make it to the 2024 T20 World Cup depending on how they fare in their regional qualifiers. Along with Ireland, Scotland are favourites to make it through.

However, they were treated rather unfairly in the build-up to the T20 World Cup 2022, having played just a couple of T20Is ahead of the mega event. 

But they played as many as 21 ODIs, winning 15 of them and are sitting on top of the ICC Cricket World Cup (CWC) League Two 2019-23 points table more or less assuring themselves of a place in the World Cup Qualifiers in Zimbabwe next year. However, only two out of 32 teams make it through to the World Cup from there.

The baton passes on

One of Scotland’s most successful batters Calum McLeod announced his decision to retire from international cricket following his side’s exit from the T20 World Cup 2022. McLeod had the most tons for Scotland (10) in international cricket and overall was the third-highest run-getter for them with 4,624 runs from 152 matches. The 33-year-old was also part of five World Cup campaigns.

His exit from the scene paves way for someone like Christopher McBride or Brandon McMullen – the fast bowling all-rounder who was a surprise pick for the T20 World Cup. He did not play a game in the tournament but got his chances in the ODI tri-series against Namibia, featuring Nepal as well, where he scored 119 runs and also picked up eight wickets. 

Unwanted controversy

An independent committee found the governance of Cricket Scotland to be ‘institutionally racist’ after engaging with over 1,000 people across all levels of Scottish cricket. As many as 448 examples of institutional racism were discovered upon inquiry following allegations from former players Majid Haq and Qasim Sheikh in November last year.

That prompted the Cricket Scotland board to resign. "We are all truly sorry and have apologised publicly to everyone who has experienced racism, or any other form of discrimination, in cricket in Scotland," they said. 

This comes after a few heads had turned in Yorkshire cricket following allegations made by Azeem Rafiq. That led to changes in leadership within Yorkshire cricket and forced the ECB to put in place a 12-point plan to address racism in the game.

Cricket Scotland in October appointed former youth-level player Anjan Luthra as their new chair for a two-year period.

United Arab Emirates

Change of guard

One of the biggest talking points in UAE cricket was the change in captaincy, first in T20Is, ahead of the Asia Cup T20 Qualifiers. Ahmed Raza took over the reins at UAE during a touch phase when four players including skipper Mohammad Naveed were banned for match-fixing in 2019. Since taking over as full-time captain, Raza has a 57% win record across white-ball formats, with his biggest scalp being defeating Ireland in the T20 World Cup 2022 Qualifier final to book UAE’s place in the marquee event in Australia.

However, in a surprise move, CP Rizwan who had played just seven T20Is was handed the captaincy. Under him, UAE failed to make the Asia Cup and also missed out on a place in the Super 12s at the T20 World Cup, but ended the campaign with a hard-fought win over Namibia – their first in a World Cup.

Rizwan’s elevation also saw 20-year-old wicketkeeper-batter Vriitya Aravind being promoted as vice-captain. Aravind has had a breakthrough year with him leading the way in the T20 World Cup Qualifiers finishing as the leading run-getter in the tournament with 267 runs at a strike-rate of 154. He also finished 2022 as the second-highest run-getter in ODIs with 781 runs at 41.11. 

The future is bright

In one of the best moments of the T20 World Cup, Karthik Meiyappan struck gold as he picked up a hat-trick against Sri Lanka to give his side a sniff. From 117 for 2, Sri Lanka added just 35 more runs in the last 33 deliveries of the innings, thanks to Meiyappan removing Bhanuka Rajapaksa, Charuth Asalanka and skipper Dasun Shanaka off consecutive deliveries. However, UAE batters could not make a match of it as they were bundled out for just 73.

UAE have a terrific mix of youth and experience. The likes of Aayan Khan (17), Aryan Lakra (21) and Alishan Sharafu (19) have already made an impact. So much so that UAE’s most experienced player Rohan Mustafa was not even considered for the T20 World Cup, which left his immediate future in the lurch. He has however made a comeback since.

UAE will have a chance to unearth many new talents with their latest franchise T20 tournament – the International T20 (ILT20) – where they will get an opportunity to rub shoulders with many experienced cricketers across the globe.

Also Read: Away from politics in Pakistan, Zahoor Khan forges a successful career in UAE

As far as 2023 is concerned, their two losses to Scotland and one to the US have dented their chances of making it to the World Cup Qualifiers, but they still have 10 games left and very much remain in contention to finish in the top three of the ICC Cricket World Cup League 2. 

Netherlands

The Netherlands did just enough to make it through to the Super 12 stage of the T20 World Cup and then went on to spoil South Africa’s party beating them by 13 runs to hand them an early exit. They had also beaten Zimbabwe in their previous game. They came agonizingly close to beating Bangladesh in the first game of the Super 12. Had they done that, they might have been in with a crack of even making the semis! 

Their win over the Proteas gave Pakistan a chance to progress and they took it with both hands as their win over Bangladesh in the final Super 12 fixture saw them through.

Regardless, it was a superb year for the Dutch, who finally got to play against some of the big sides like West Indies, England and also Pakistan at home, which has certainly helped them become a better side.

Since they finished fourth in their Super 12 group, NETHERLANDS BECAME THE ONLY ASSOCIATE TEAM TO MAKE IT THROUGH TO THE T20 WORLD CUP 2024.

Smooth transition

When Ryan Campbell suffered a heart attack that put him in a coma, it was Ryan Cook who took over the reins and the transition has been an extremely smooth one. Not just that, Pieter Seelaar retired in the middle of an ODI series against England and as a result, Scott Edwards took over as captain.

Edwards since then has not just led the Dutch in the T20 World Cup Qualifiers, finishing runners-up, but his captaincy and smart acumen were key behind Netherlands’ success at the T20 World Cup.

Also Read - Bas de Leede: Scott Edwards has reduced the void left by Pieter Seelaar

With the Netherlands playing the ODI Super League, they are out of contention for a direct qualification to the 50-over World Cup in India. However, they are assured of a place in the Qualifiers in Zimbabwe in 2023. The Netherlands have shown that they are not going to be overwhelmed by facing the big countries and the Qualifiers will be yet another opportunity to showcase their talent at the highest level.

What’s in store for 2023?

The Dutch were on the receiving end of a world record ODI score when England hit them for 498 in June this year. However, they have been unfazed by that, retirements, injuries, change in leadership among other things to stitch a memorable year for themselves. They have two ODIs against South Africa and three more against Zimbabwe coming this year other than their Qualifiers in May. 

With the 2024 T20 World Cup Qualification secured, the Netherlands will hope that there will be many more opportunities coming their way. 

What does the future look like?

What a year it has been for Bas de Leede. He played a starring role for the Dutch in the T20 World Cup Qualifiers and has overall scored 768 runs and 31 wickets across formats this year. However, a huge shout-out has to go to skipper Edwards as well, who scored eight ODI fifties in 15 innings and overall slammed 802 runs in white-ball cricket for the Netherlands.

Other than de Leede, who picked up 23 T20I wickets at 12, there were outstanding contributions from Fred Klaassen (18 wickets at 17.38), Logan van Beek (16 wickets at 17.43) and also Paul van Meekeren (16 wickets at 17.31). 

What a turnaround it has been for van Meekeren, who not too long ago was a delivery boy with Uber Eats and now is the mainstay of the Dutch bowling line-up, constantly cranking it up to 140 KMPH. He played in the CPL last year and has also featured in the LPL earlier this year. De Leede, on the other hand too will play franchise cricket after he was picked by the MI Emirates in the ILT20. 

Klaassen has been a regular for Kent and will play for Dubai Capitals in the ILT20 whole another fast bowler Brandon Glover will turn up for Abu Dhabi Knight Riders. 

Exposure to such tournaments would do the ever-improving Dutch cricketers a world of good. Considered to be the best associate nation ever, the Netherlands will hope that they keep the associates’ flag flying high in the years to come.

Namibia

Perhaps an entire book can be written on Namibia’s rise in international cricket. They have risen from oblivion and have gone on to play back-to-back T20 World Cups. They made it to the Super 12s last year, but this time around despite beating former champions Sri Lanka in their first game, they could not progress to the next round. Nevertheless, it is another year the Eagles could look back on and be proud about. And as Albie Morkel said, the current lot have awoken a sleeping giant in the country. 

No fluke

The rise of Namibia at the biggest stage did not happen overnight. Going back four years, there was no proper system in place in schools, no club cricket, but since Morkel and head coach Pierre de Bruyn took over, all that has changed. With Namibia getting David Wiese and Ruben Trumpelmann into the fold, it has taken them to the next level. 

While many consider the win over Sri Lanka an upset or a fluke, that is far from the truth. In fact, before the mega event, Namibia registered a 3-2 series win over Zimbabwe – their first over a full-member. However, they lost to the Dutch and UAE after that, not due to their lack of trying, but it sadly wasn't their day.

Another World Cup beckons?

Namibia’s 13 ODI wins this year has taken them a step closer to a place in the Qualifiers in Zimbabwe, they will know that they need to get maximum points in the remaining six fixtures to remain in contention. It very much is still in their hands.

Namibia will also co-host the 50-over World Cup in 2027 along with South Africa and Zimbabwe. While the Proteas and the Chevrons have secured an automatic qualification, for some strange reason, Namibia have not received the same treatment. Instead, they will have to play the Qualifiers.

As far as their 2024 T20 World Cup hopes go, they will have to fare well in the regional qualifiers. Also, the 2026 Men’s Under-19 World Cup will be played in Namibia too.

Who stole the show?

While Wiese’s prowess with both bat and ball was well-known, Trumpelmann’s batting down the order gave Namibia extra depth. We got a glimpse of it when he held his own in a 70-run stand with Siese in the T20 World Cup game against the UAE, nearly taking his side home. In the CWC League 2 game against PNG, he picked up four wickets and an unbeaten 55 coming in at eight to help his side chase down 237 after being reduced to 109 for 6. 

The only thing that overshadowed his effort was a brilliant six-for by Tangeni Lungameni. Trumpelmann’s efforts have earned him a spot with the Desert Vipers in the IL T20, while Wiese will return to the IPL with the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) – becoming the first Namibian to be picked in the tournament. The team’s vice-captain JJ Smit too will feature in the ILT20 with the Sharjah Warriors.

Also Read - Ruben Trumpelmann: Playing in a World Cup is always a big motivation

Skipper Gerhard Erasmus has always led from the front and this year has been no different for him. With 956 runs at 56.24 in 20 innings this year, he is the highest run-getter in ODIs this year. You throw in his 12 wickets at 27.7 with his part-time off-spin, it indeed marks an impressive year for the skipper.

Nepal, Papua New Guinea & USA

What do Nepal and PNG have in common? Their head coach position remains vacant. Manoj Prabhakar was the latest to step down as Nepal's head coach after taking charge in August. Before that, Nepal had the likes of Dav Whatmore and also Pubudu Dassanayake at the helm. They have had three head coaches since December 2020 and are on the lookout for the fourth one. 

Moreover, they were hit with the controversy of their skipper Sandeep Lamichhane being sent to jail for sexual assault, which certainly does not help Nepal's cause of a successful show on the field.

As far as PNG are concerned, Joe Dawes stepped down as the head coach just before the T20 World Cup last year, paving way for Carl Sadri to take over. The Barramundis failed to get on the board in the 2021 edition and did not make the cut for the mega event earlier this year, finishing third in the Qualifiers. PNG are currently looking for someone who would stay in the country to guide the players, as Dawes had done successfully. 

“It’s unfortunate that Covid-19 happened at the beginning of Sandri’s appointment as this severely impacted his ability to mobilise to PNG and work closely with the players,” Cricket PNG said in August while relieving Sandri of his duties. 

Speaking of the USA, who will be co-hosting the T20 World Cup 2024 along with the West Indies, they were rather inconsistent this year. They have played out all their matches in the ICC CWC League 2 and are out of contention for a place in the 50-over World Cup Qualifiers next year. 

While they were impressive with wins over Scotland and Namibia, a couple of tied matches against PNG and Nepal and also a loss to the Barramundis, who are struggling at the bottom of the table may have cost them a place in the Qualifiers.

All is not lost for them as they can make it to the Qualifiers, depending on how they fare in the Qualifiers playoffs, featuring six teams, two of which make it to the Qualifiers in Zimbabwe. The likes of Unmukt Chand, Corey Anderson, Harmeet Singh, Sami Aslam, Liam Plunkett and others are believed to be playing cricket in the USA at the moment. Their eligibility to play for the US in the upcoming major events could be pivotal in keeping the country afloat in cricketing circles.

Others

Like USA, Oman are done with the CWC League 2 fixtures and have 44 from them. But their fate is no longer in their hands as Namibia and the UAE can still go past them.

Tanzania spinner Yalinde Nkanya and Oman's Bilal Khan lead the most wickets in T20Is and ODIs, picking up 45 and 43 wickets respectively.

Canada and Jersey are to play the WC Qualifiers playoff after finishing top of their group in the ICC Challenge League. They will now play the Qualifiers playoff which is the next pathway to make it through to the 50-over World Cup in India.

Thailand Women scripted history making it through to the semi-final of the Asia Cup for the first time. They beat Pakistan, UAE and Malaysia along the way but lost to eventual champions India in the semis.

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NamibiaUnited Arab EmiratesUSANetherlandsScotlandPapua New GuineaNepalBas de LeedeDavid WiesePaul van MeekerenAlbie MorkelVriitya AravindKarthik MeiyappanKyle CoetzerSandeep LamichhaneScott Edwards

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