Now that the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier is over, there are a few things we picked up from the tournament.
Zimbabwe failed to qualify for the Cricket World Cup to be held in 2019 and it left an indelible dent on the fans’ high-flying dreams and aspirations.
Below are the five things that stood out at the tournament:
5. Cricket is still alive in Zimbabwe
It is not a secret that Zimbabwe’s cricket status rapidly deteriorated over the years and a point was imminent where some wanted to label the nation a write-off in world cricket. The future of the game in the country has always been under threat. But the crowds that came to watch the games both in Bulawayo and Harare shows a different story. The game is very much alive in the country. Attendances were so good, tournament organizers were forced to move a crucial game between Zimbabwe and Scotland from the smaller Bulawayo Athletic Club to the better-equipped Queens Sports Club. The attendance at Zimbabwe’s last game with United Arab Emirates was simply breath-taking and captivating.
4. Associate nations can compete with Test-playing teams
The level of competitiveness during the tournament exhibited by the teams was thoroughly entertaining. The first thing that will obviously come to your mind is that United Arab Emirates, ranked 14th on the ODI rankings, beat Zimbabwe, a Test-playing nation. On the overall, there were three victories and one tie for Associates over Test teams in the tournament. Scotland beat Afghanistan and tied their group game against Zimbabwe; Hong Kong upset Afghanistan in the group stages, and then the UAE win. It is interesting to see how the Associates will keep on developing their game over the years to come. It was not an easy ride for the teams that participated at the world cup qualifier.
3. Cricket is still an elitist sport
What has been aforementioned has been the level of competitiveness we all saw during the tournament. However, it has been a huge indictment on the International Cricket Council’s decision-making to only allow two teams to go for the World Cup in 2019. Many people have been of the thought that it would be good for the sport if the World Cup included 12 teams or 14 teams. The problem is that the ICC will not get enough revenues if many small teams participate, they will rather have the big countries play, and allow a small space for the small nations. Hence, cricket is still not much of a global sport.
2. Nepal’s incredible rise to having ODI status
Nepal showed positive intent even before they arrived in Zimbabwe. The way they played during the tournament saw them attaining ODI status. They made the final step in the World Cup Qualifier, beating Hong Kong to finish fourth in their group and then Papua New Guinea in a playoff match to guarantee an eighth-place finish and with it ODI status. Their rise in the last decade has been phenomenal, considering the fact that As recently as 2010, Nepal were playing in the sixth tier of world cricket.
1. Playing conditions come under scrutiny
Since not every game was being televised, the ICC decided not to implement the Umpire Decision Review System (abbreviated as UDRS or DRS) during the tournament, despite there being World Cup spots at stake. Scotland were left bemused after two crucial decisions went against them and played a significant role in their narrowly missing out on qualification.
Of worth is also noting the remarkable come-back of Afghanistan as they were once on the verge of exiting the group stage. They went on to beat West Indies in the final for the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier 2018.
As Afghanistan and West Indies have qualified, one is left to reflect on all the things that have been highlighted above.
With information (including image) from ESPN CricInfo.