|World Twenty20 Cup Qualifier: Belfast, Northern Ireland, August 2008|
ICC WT20 Qualifier is a “great success”
The top six Associate teams’ event featured 11 matches at Stormont spread over four days and culminated on Tuesday with Ireland and the Netherlands sharing the spoils after the final was rained off without a ball being bowled.
Both teams can now look forward to next year’s ICC World Twenty20 to be staged in June in England and if Zimbabwe ratifies its decision to step back from the tournament then Scotland, which finished third, will join them.
Reflecting on the Belfast tournament, Mr Done said: “It was disappointing to see the final being rained-off but apart from that, I think the tournament was excellently organized and we saw some very exciting matches with the ball dominating the bat.
“This event gave the top six Associate sides a chance to qualify for the main event in England next year through playing in the Twenty20 format. This was a good progression considering that for the inaugural ICC World Twenty20 2007 in South Africa, Kenya and Scotland qualified on their performance in the 50-over-a-side ICC World Cricket League Division 1 in Nairobi.
“As for the bottom three sides in Belfast, Kenya, Canada and Bermuda, they can assess what went wrong and work towards to the opportunity to re-qualify for the 2011 ICC Cricket World Cup through the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier in 2009.
“With Ireland, the Netherlands and perhaps Scotland making the trip to England next year, they will also be able to review their performances and fine tune in the right areas so that when they arrive for in June 2009 they are ready to challenge the leading sides.
“They can also look forward to that ICC CWC Qualifier next year with confidence after their performances under pressure this week,” he added.
Although the Belfast tournament’s trophy was shared, Ireland will be classified as Associate one in the tournament draw on the basis of its 10th place in the Reliance Mobile ICC ODI Championship, while the Netherlands will be classified as Associate two.
If Zimbabwe confirms it won’t play, Ireland will take Zimbabwe’s place in Group A (with India and Bangladesh), the Netherlands will ease into Group B (with England and Pakistan) and Scotland, which defeated Kenya in the third and fourth-place play-off on Monday, takes a position in Group D (with South Africa and New Zealand).
However, if Zimbabwe opts not to ratify its earlier decision taken at the Annual Conference to step back from the tournament, Ireland will join England and Pakistan in Group B and the Netherlands will form Group D with South Africa and New Zealand.
Mr Done paid tribute to the organisers, the local clubs, the supporters and the teams themselves for combining to create a successful tournament.
“On behalf of the ICC I would like to thank Cricket Ireland and the ICC Event Manager Andrew Faichney for doing such a terrific job in staging these matches,” he said.
“It has involved a great deal of work and sacrifice for all concerned, not least from the players and support staffs of all the competing teams. You can all reflect on a job well done.”
Ireland took the hardest possible road to the final thanks to a penultimate-ball victory over Scotland on Saturday, a last-gasp win over Bermuda on Sunday and a narrow four-wicket win over Kenya in the semi-final.
In contrast, the Netherlands stunned Kenya by 19 runs in the opener before losing to Canada by four wickets. But with other results going its way, it reached the last four where it outplayed Scotland, winning by five wickets.
Scotland bounced back nicely after suffering a narrow loss against Ireland, defeating Bermuda by eight wickets and then thumping Kenya by nine wickets in the third and fourth-place play-off – thanks to a joint-fifth highest first wicket partnership in T20I history between captain Ryan Watson and Durham’s Kyle Coetzer.
Watson and Coetzer put on 102 runs for the first wicket to join Matthew Hayden and Adam Gilchrist who put on the same total for the opening wicket against Bangladesh at Cape Town in the ICC World Twenty20 2007 in South Africa.
Bermuda lost all three matches it played but its best chance came in the rain-curtailed match against Ireland when it was left to chase a revised target of 46 in eight overs to earn a place in the semi-finals. Bermuda lost the match by four runs by the Duckworth-Lewis method and Ireland qualified for the semi-final where it defeated Kenya to reach the final.
Ireland all-rounder Andre Botha was declared player of the tournament for his 61 runs and eight wickets.