The World Cricket League Division 3 has just concluded in Malaysia. For those unaware, the World Cricket League is a 50-over league system for associate and affiliate cricket nations. Teams play in a league of 6 with two teams being promoted to the next tier, two staying where they are and two being relegated. Technically, the WCL provides a qualification pathway for the World Cup for these nations. (Although with the World Cup being a 10 team tournament from 2019 the chances of an associate nation reaching the finals is almost non-existent. A topic for a future post perhaps…)
WCL Division Three was formed of Nepal, Uganda, hosts Malaysia, Singapore, Bermuda and the USA. Nepal and Uganda had been relegated from the World Cup Qualifier held earlier in the year. Malaysia and Singapore were promoted from Division 4 which took place over the summer.
In the end the winners of the tournament were Nepal, with Uganda runners-up and also promoted. Bermuda and the USA were relegated. The results are here:
Nepal as winners was no surprise. Cricket is a hugely popular sport in the country, with thousands turning up to international matches played there. They have a massive groundswell of support and some very talented players including captain Paras Khadka who is a superstar in Nepal. The country recently gained international T20 status and appeared at the last T20 World Cup and more recently, the Asian Games.
Uganda have consistently been one of the strongest Associate sides in Africa. The top players have their own national league, and in September took part in the Africa Cricket Association Cup in South Africa with other African nations. Star all-rounder Roger Mukasa was the player of the tournament, scoring 265 runs and taking 13 wickets, including 6/27 in the final against Nepal. Their bowling attack stifled the opposition for runs and tip-top fielding and fitness helped them to defend some small totals.
The two promoted sides from Division Four, Malaysia and Singapore, didn’t quite have enough for promotion. Singapore were one run away from defeating Uganda in their second match, which would have gained them promotion. Such are the fine lines in WCL cricket. Home advantage didn’t prove a help to Malaysia, whose defeat to Bermuda was so crucial to their prospects. Still, having risen rapidly from Division 5 in 2014 they will consider this a successful year. Unfortunately WCL Div 3 won’t come around again for at least a year so both these sides have a lack of cricket in their immediate future.
The two Americas sides were relegated, Bermuda and the USA. The former played in the World Cup only 8 years ago, but with a small player pool to choose from and a lack of quality in their batting line up they were rolled over for meagre totals in most of their matches and finished bottom.
The USA remain one of the games great underachievers. Their relegation can be blamed mostly on poor preparation and a rather inept governing body, USACA. The players involved are clearly talented but the lack of regular 50 over cricket and practise as a team was their downfall. Although a caveat to this must be the weather – 3 of their matches were truncated due to rain, with the narrow defeat to Nepal on the D/L method in particular a very unlucky outcome.
So Nepal and Uganda progress to Division Two in January of next year. Will be interesting to see how they fare.