Friday, 17 February 2012

Players born in Test playing Countries, opting for associate teams.

Most recently its started to come to people's attention. With more and more players who are unable to play for their country of birth. Have opted to search through family documents, family trees and many other options. In search for a link to their history, so they can find another path to International cricket.

Over the last few years, people have even criticized these individuals for pursuing such paths. My view over this article will be to ask why, also what is needed to help the associates. While also protecting them and their future youth.

Everyone involved in cricket, will know about Eoin Morgan and that he's now playing for England. While previously having represented Ireland. Likewise with Dirk Nannes who played for Holland, then he was selected for the Australian cricket side. These are just two examples of players who have been lucky or unlucky enough to be selected by a Test playing country.

Then there is the likes of Tim Murtagh, who most recently was granted Irish citizenship. Or Trent Johnston, a longer time ago who was also asked to play for Ireland.

I've heard people discuss these two sets of groups in the same way. As if both are equally as bad as each other. I'd like to think they're completely different situations.

Trent Johnston met an Irish woman. When they moved here, roughly 17/18 years ago he was approached to play for Ireland. He's always shown to be a strong leader for Ireland. While also being very committed to the cause of Ireland. Also showing to be a highly respected part of the Irish set up.

Also by his own remarks, he knew he wasn't good enough to wear the gold of Australia. So he got the chance to play International cricket, which I can only imagine was very appealing to him, a chance which he grasped with both hands. A decision that would work well for all parties involved.

Then Tim Murtagh likewise, had never played International cricket for England. Then was made aware of his Irish links, he then decided to pursue these links and apply to Ireland for citizenship. In the hope of playing eventually for the Irish cricket team. A move which was recently finalised, when he received his Irish citizenship and his Irish passport.

The problem with the likes of Morgan and Nannes is simple. Morgan was the special case, that he was talented enough to maintain his place in the English side.

However there is far too many players opting for test playing sides. Getting a chance to play for them, then being sidelined. While had they remained with the associate sides they would be of much more valued. Although its hard not to feel for the more talented players in these situations. They get a call from the test side and its hard to turn down.

Although that is a different situation. A decision the ICC needs to make, regarding the power the full members have over the associates.

The idea an Associate player can be played in one game for a Test side. Then he's no longer available to an associate side for four years. While one might expect the same rule would apply to all sides. However it's not, a test side can pick an associate player at any time. They don't need to wait the four years between their last appearance.

For example Ed Joyce of Ireland, was selected for England. However wasn't needed after the 2007 World Cup, so he went nearly four years in International isolation. So Ireland applied to the ICC to allow him to skip the last few months of the four needed. So he could be allowed to play for the associate side during the World Cup. A move which was surprisingly accepted by the ICC, after Clive Lloyd accepted the case put forward by Cricket Ireland.

Still the idea he had to wait so long between games isn't a move I disagree with. I'd go along with it, if both sides had to play by the same rules. However as we all know, Test sides don't need to wait four years before selection. So until the rule is applied to all parties, how can people be surprised that associates don't agree to it.

It's a system currently set up to favour the Test sides, with far too little out there to help the associates survive.

This is something that has to be addressed quickly. If cricket is to develop among the associates then more protection needs to be given to the associates. So the associates can be safe to invest in their youth systems. While nurturing and developing the next star of the future, without fear of losing these players to the big teams. As often it looks like Ireland is a feeder team to the English side, with many of its star players rumoured to be on the verge of selection by England.

Too often this fear is a reality. Ireland currently have two quality younger players in their side. George Dockrell and Paul Stirling. The rumours are all over the cricket world about their future. Will they be snapped up by their neighbours England. Or can they continue to help Ireland develop as a cricketing team. These are decisions these two will likely face sooner rather than later.

So players born in Test playing countries, who pursue options that would allow them be selected by an associate. Is it such a bad thing, why can't players get a chance at International cricket. Just because they've been overlooked by their countries of birth.

I think it's a move which should be supported by all fans of cricket. Although we do need to make sure these players who are opting for this, are 100% committed to their new country. We can't have them deciding to play the big games. Like the World Cup games and skipping the qualifiers.

Then there is another argument to this situation. A very valid point, by playing these more talented players in the associate sides. What message is that sending to the youth of the associate team. They might see the inclusion of such players as limiting their opportunities. That the associate side feels they need to acquire more talented non-national players. That there isn't enough quality in the squad to fill the roles that are needed.

A situation like this occurred recently for an associate side. When Tim Murtagh became available for the Irish cricket team.

A move which was handled excellently by Cricket Ireland recently. When Tim Murtagh was given his passport, he wasn't to be fast tracked into the side. In fact he's named only as one of the replacements for the upcoming T20 World Cup qualifier squad. This sends out a message that he needs to work hard to get in. That he won't be allowed to get in based on his name and experience without hard work.

Overall if a player is willing to be committed and train hard. Then why can't he play for an associate side. If he's not got the exact skills needed by the Test playing country. Then why should one not be given a chance somewhere else.

It's not like these players are mercenaries. Often these players would get paid little or no money, to play for these associates. They would play out of passion for the game, a passion to better themselves. A chance to show their talent on the world stage. An opportunity all players should have.

Saturday, 4 February 2012

My Associate XI...

My associate XI team,

First lets start with the openers,

Ed Joyce(Ireland)

Arguably the greatest cricketer to be produced in Ireland, he's a name that will divide opinion in many cricket loving households. He knew he couldn't play test cricket for Ireland so when he got a opportunity to play for England, he took the chance, although he never got the chance to play test cricket for England.
He is a classy left handed batsman, who performs his best in the longer form of the game, he recently became the first Irish batsman to score 10,000 first-class runs. He had a quiet World Cup with only one score of note, with an 84 against the West Indies, though he would hope to score much more runs in 2012, and help Ireland progress to the 2012 T20 World Cup.

Paul Stirling(Ireland)

Paul Stirling is the most promising talent in the Irish cricket batting lineup and he's only just turned 21, he is a very aggressive batsman. He's not afraid to throw the kitchen sink at every ball. While many Irish fans felt he got out too easily at the start of his career, he's starting to mature now. Showing controlled aggression and shot selection. Nothing showed it better when he recently scored a century against Pakistan in an ODI series in Ireland. He also scored the second fastest century of the 2011 World Cup, he's fast becoming one of the brightest prospects in World cricket.

William Porterfield(Ireland)(c)

The captain of the Irish side, he leads the team very well. He's a world class fielder at cover point. Arguably one of the finest fielders in the game today. He's also an excellent left handed batsman, who plies his trade at Warwickshire after making the move from Gloucestershire. He had several pundits throwing praise upon him during the world cup for his field placements, his attacking ways and his cricket brain. Showing that he would feel completely comfortable had he to make such field settings, in the Test arena.

Niall O'Brien(Ireland)(wk)

I think Niall is one of the most underrated wicket-keepers in the game of cricket. He is a very comfortable player of spin, with some explosive shots in his game. He has recently been bought for the Bangladesh Premier League, a move which has lead to him missing out on selection for the Irish squad for the tour of Kenya. Although a chance to play in the conditions he will face in Bangladesh, will only help continue his progress as a batsman.

Kyle Coetzer(Scotland)

Kyle Coetzer might sound not very Scottish, he was indeed born in Aberdeen, Scotland. He's been playing for Scotland since the U-15's. He currently plays with Durham in the English county game, although he's not been a consistent part of their side. He's yet to secure a full season of first XI cricket with Durham but remains a vital player in the Scotland side. He is also the current top run scorer in the ICC Cup One-Day league with 153 runs, he also has 170 runs in the four-day ICC Cup.

Mohammad Shahzad(Afghanistan)

Mohammad Shahzad is a very talented right-handed batsman for Afghanistan, he made Afghan cricket history during their tour to Netherlands in 2009. He was the first Afghan to score a century in an ODI match, he scored 110 runs. Afghainstan also went onto win the game by 6 wickets. He was also later to become the first Afghan to score a first-class double century when he scored 214 not out. He's fast reaching some big milestones for his country, while he is only 20 years of age, he remains a big prospect for Afghan cricket.

Ryan ten Doeschate(Holland)

Ryan ten Doeschate is a very good allrounder, he is well known to many English fans, as he plays for Essex in the English county game. He was born in South Africa, although his loyalties are firmly with Holland in regards of him playing for Holland over South Africa. He had a very nice 2011 world cup, including scoring a very well timed century against England, while picking two wickets up on his way.

Peter Borren(Holland)

One of the better leaders in the associate ranks, he's the captain of the dutch team. A role which he has done with a lot of skill, he usually bats low in the order. Although when needed he has performed his batting duties very well, while being very consistent. He's also a very handy bowler, so he contributes in many ways to the team.

George Dockrell(Ireland)

George Dockrell is one of the most promising talents in associate cricket, he made his debut for the Ireland senior team in the 2010 Quadrangular Twenty20 Series in Sri Lanka. His debut T20 match was against Afghanistan, which was also his debut T20 International, he made figures of 2/11 as Ireland went onto win by 5 wickets. He would later go on to become a leading player in the Irish senior side.
Impressing many people during his performances in the 2011 world cup, where he took the prize wicket of Sachin Tendulkar among others.

Trent Johnston(Ireland)

David Trent Johnston or as known to Irish cricket fans TJ or Trent Johnston, is an Australian born Irish cricketer. He is an all-rounder but mostly known for his bowling but is not too bad with the bat at all. He generally comes into about No.9 and he's a far better batsman than his batting position would suggest.

Now with Trent being the young age of 37 he remains in the Irish side as a true professional and a servant to Irish cricket, he plans to retire after the next T20 World Cup in Sri Lanka in 2012.

Hameed Hassan(Afghanistan)

Hameed Hassan is a very tall fast bowler for Afghanistan. He has received praise from the likes of Mike Gatting and John Stephenson. He is very brisk, he had reached 90 miles per hour, when he picked up four wickets against Jersey, which also helped limit them to 80. He was also the leading wicket taker for Afghanistan during the 2009 World Cup Qualifiers in South Africa, where he picked up 18 wickets.