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News’s associate cricket coverage: A notch above the rest

Last updated on 01 Jan 2024 | 08:55 AM
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Here's a quick look back at some of our best write-ups in 2023

We at have not missed a single beat when it comes to our coverage of associate cricket – be it in getting interviews from the people that matter or also sharing our two cents about various teams and events – we have been at the forefront throughout.

If 2023 is anything to go by, we can expect them to flourish and grow even more in 2024, and hopefully, our coverage, too, will head in the same direction.

With that, let’s take at some of the best features and interviews we have penned down in the last year.

An MBA cricketer

Sybrand Englebrecht gave up cricket in 2016, did his MBA and moved to the Netherlands when a full-time opportunity arose as an investment specialist. He represented South Africa in the Under-19 World Cup 2008. He played the World Cup final against Virat Kohli & Co. and 15 years later, here he was in India for an ODI World Cup, where he squared off against Kohli once again.

At the 2023 ODI World Cup, he finished as the Netherlands’ leading run-getter. 

Not too shabby for someone who qualified to play for the Dutch only in June last year. I caught up with him on the sidelines of the World Cup in Alur to find out about his journey. Here’s me trying my best to do so.

Coach Cook

Sticking with the Dutch, it was an incredible experience to speak to their head coach Ryan Cook. While his brother Stephen and dad Jimmy played at the highest level for South Africa, Ryan’s career did not pan out the same way. Hence, he turned to coaching and started off really early, working at his father’s academy.

Hear more from Cook himself here

Enter Monty Desai

What an incredible year it has been for Nepal, and it is largely thanks to the work head coach Monty Desai has done in his 10-month spell so far. The Rhinos’ hard work has earned them a place in the Asia Cup, a crack at playing the 50-over World Cup and also securing qualification for the T20 World Cup later this year. Nepal have certainly come a long way this year, and this could very well be the start of many exciting things to come.

Here, Desai describes the journey in his own words

But it was bittersweet for Nepal, who had to deal with the retirement of one of their senior cricketers, Gyanendra Malla. I tried to put into words what Malla meant to Nepal cricket and questioned the timing of this decision. Nepal, though, did well to take that in their strides and move ahead.


Nepal Cricket did not just grow on the field, but also took a huge leap off it too. In about 45-50 days, the Cricket Association of Nepal (CAN) and a few fans came together to help build a new stadium in Kathmandu. The Mulpani Cricket Ground (MCG) came to fruition with the determination of a few dedicated people, including CAN treasurer Roshan Singh, who was tasked to get the job done for the ACC Premier Cup – the qualifying tournament for the Asia Cup.

Hear from the CAN treasurer himself as to how he rallied his troops to give the world its 216th ODI venue.

UAE’s Ben Stokes

I’ll admit, when I spoke to Ali Naseer during the inaugural edition of the International League (ILT20), I didn’t realise he would go on to make his UAE debut in the next five months. Of course, the talent was always there in the limited chances he got at the Under-19 level, but there was always a question of whether he had the temperament to play on the big stage.

He answered that aplomb with back-to-back fifties in his first two ODIs against West Indies in June. Like his idol Ben Stokes, Naseer bats left and bowls right-handed, but earlier in his life was keen on playing tennis. His dream was to play in the Wimbledon one day, but he gave up that dream to play cricket, and has made a promising start. 

Here he is sharing this interesting story.

He ended the year on a high, picking up the Player of the Match award for his four-wicket haul against Afghanistan in Sharjah on the last day of 2023. 

Captain Erasmus

Gerhard Erasmus is one of the most underrated captains and batters in world cricket. He finished 2022 as the leading run-getter in ODIs, and in 2023, he was Namibia’s highest-getter in the format. Erasmus, a law graduate from the University of Stellenbosch, led the team from the front when they made the Super 12 in the 2021 T20 World Cup and in the following year, beat former champions Sri Lanka as well.

While he will be disappointed to miss out on the chance to play in the ODI World Cup, he will be pleased with the fact that the Eagles have made it to their third T20 World Cup in a row. 

Here’s me catching up with the Namibian skipper earlier in 2023 during his stint with Gulf Giants in the ILT20. You certainly wouldn’t want to miss this!

Watt’s happening?

Remember this?

Yes, this is Mark Watt against the West Indies in the T20 World Cup 2022 in Adelaide. Whatever was written on that paper worked as the left-arm spinner finished with 3 for 12 to hand his side a memorable 42-run victory.

Cricket was not even Watt’s first choice, and he began to take it seriously only at the age of 14, when a knee injury derailed his football career. Imagine the phrase “WATT A GOAL” Being written by portals to describe his goal, eh? So clichéd and so boring, right?

An Arsenal fan, who represented Glazers-owned  Desert Vipers in the inaugural ILT20, Watt has been instrumental in Scotland’s rise over the years. 

Hear it right from the horse’s mouth, about his journey, his strategy of bowling a yard two behind the umpire, and much more. WATT an incredible story!

A World Cup at 43!

Ryan Campbell turned up for Hong Kong in the 2016 T20 World Cup in India at the age of 44, which was indeed bizarre. There’s absolutely nothing bizarre about Uganda’s Frank Nsubuga’s entry into the World Cup, though. He has been playing the sport professionally since the early 90s, and all his hard work has paid off as Uganda made it to their first-ever World Cup. 

I had the pleasure of chatting with him after Uganda’s incredible feat, where the old-timer recalled his journey, the win against Zimbabwe in the Qualifiers and much more. Read more about his incredible achievement here.

And no, I’m not the only one who writes on associate cricket in my team. Here’s Aakash Sivasubramaniam chipping in (for a change), where he talks about what it means to Uganda to appear in a World Cup in this short piece.

Decoding the chess-cricket connection

Before I forget, here’s Aakash with another contribution. He caught up with UAE leg-spinner  Karthik Meiyappan, who stunned the world with an incredible hat-trick against Sri Lanka at the T20 World Cup in 2022. Hailing from Chennai (like Aakash), Meiyappan was a chess player (like Aakash?) in his initial days, but turned to cricket (like Aakash) later on. Who better than Aakash to pick his brains, right?

He’s made no progress in getting Yuzvendra Chahal though. Glass half-full, right?

Sweet feeling of victory

“A win for the Netherlands is a win for Scotland, UAE, Namibia, and so many others who could not make it to this level,” is what I had written in this piece after the Netherlands beat South Africa in the World Cup recently. 

It was an emotional moment not just for the team but for many like me, who have been rooting for them. They have done the double over the Proteas, having already beaten them in the T20 World Cup 2022, which made this win even sweeter.

The agony of a loss

When will Scotland’s heartbreak end? In 2018, they were denied a chance to play the 2019 World Cup due to an umpiring howler. In 2023, they did everything right – beat Ireland, Zimbabwe, and West Indies in the Qualifiers – but ran into a determined Netherlands in the end, who this time denied them. 

Who better than the recently retired Kyle Coetzer to decode all that. He led the Scottish side during the 2018 debacle and now, watched silently from the sidelines as history repeated itself. Here’s the former skipper looking back at the campaign and also pointing out a few positives.

What a turnaround

Aqib Ilyas played a starring role for Oman to secure a qualification for the T20 World Cup. Seven years ago, he was dropped in the middle of the tournament, then had to deal with a tumour on his leg and found a way to bounce back after all these years to compete at the highest level. 

Shout out to his brother Adnan for encouraging him, though. Hear from Ilyas himself about this phase in his life and more.

Other must read features/interviews

Jatinder Singh: Oman need to change training pattern to taste further success

Max O'Dowd: Netherlands getting pushed further down after Super League scrap

Craig Williams: Uganda’s T20 World Cup qualification puts them on the map

What’s in store for Netherlands after bottom-placed World Cup exit?

Turning hobby into profession, Aryansh Sharma shows promise for UAE

Aayan Khan: Yet another teenage prodigy from UAE who is set to make it big

After unfilled New Zealand dream, Logan van Beek realises World Cup dream

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