The Angus Berry Column
Using England to develop cricketers?
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Just as the English county game is awash with the up-and-coming stars of the full members teams, could the English club scene become the place where associate cricketers broaden their horizons? Last season I came up against a club side that had two Tanzanian cricketers in the team. Speaking to them they said that the opportunity to play in England and experience life as an overseas cricketers was something that would always remember.
One of the biggest challenges for associate and affiliate teams is to gain exposure in conditions that are alien to them. The World Cricket League has gone some way to expose the cricketers of nations less renowned for their globetrotting exploits to an array of pitches, conditions and cultures. Yet I wonder if a season in club cricket be it in England, Scotland or any country that present players with a new challenge, could help develop the associate game?
Of course there are obstacles to overcome, the cost of shipping players from remote parts of the world to England are of course high, yet the top leagues in England and the county game are both full of overseas stars plying their trade.
It is noticeable in the Premier leagues around England just how many Irish players are present. This of course has had a knock on effect that has seen English counties studded with Irish internationals. I cannot see why that, if other countries had similar links with top club sides in England, all of which have in turn links with county sides, the associate game couldn’t benefit as a result.
We have often seen Middle Eastern teams come to places such as Jersey, Scotland and Ireland and struggle as their players are exposed to alien conditions. A year or two as a youngster in which the player can acclimatise and learn a great deal from time in foreign conditions could only do themselves and their country good. There is a wealth of talent in the associate game, much of which is curtailed by their cricketing upbringing being confined to one set of conditions in just one country.
The chance to link players from the diverse world of cricket with new and exciting challenges would serve the game as a whole a great opportunity. I hope that in time to come I will come against more players from the world of associate and affiliate cricket and in turn see those players gracing the world stage.
Incidentally the two Tanzanian players contributed a century and a five-wicket haul to the game. Perhaps they will soon be doing the same for the country!
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