The schedule for the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup Qualifier Playoff, which involves Canada, was published earlier this week. Canada qualified as winners of Cricket World Cup Challenge League A and will compete against Jersey, winners of Challenge League B plus the bottom four teams from the Men’s Cricket World Cup League Division 2, namely Namibia, USA, United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Papua New Guinea.
These six competing teams will play in a round-robin format in Namibia from March 26 through April 5. Matches are to be played at two grounds: Wanderers Cricket Ground and United Cricket Club Ground. The top two teams from this “Qualifier Playoff” of six teams will advance to the Men’s Cricket World Cup Qualifier in Zimbabwe, an event scheduled from June 18 through July 9, 2023.
Canada begins this Qualifier Playoff with a game against Jersey on Monday 27 March at the United ground before going head-to-head with the USA on Wednesday 29 March at the Wanderers ground. Canada then faces the UAE on 1 April at the Wanderers, followed by a game against hosts Namibia on 4 April, also at the Wanderers. Canada’s last game is against Papua New Guinea on 5 April at the United Ground.
In an ICC media release issued on Saturday (25 March 2023), Canadian captain Saad bin Zafar said: “The tournament holds a significant importance for Canada as it presents us with an opportunity to regain our ODI status and to further qualify for the upcoming World Cup Qualifiers in Zimbabwe. The boys have worked really hard to prepare for this tournament and we can’t wait to get the tournament going.”
The Canadian squad for this tournament comprises: Saad bin Zafar (Captain), Nikhil Dutta, Jeremy Gordon, Dilon Heyliger, Dillon Johnson, Ammar Khalid, Nicholas Kirton, Parveen Kumar, Shreyas Movva, Kaleem Sana, Ravinderpal Singh, Pargat Singh, Matthew Spoors, Harsh Thaker and Srimantha Wijeyeratne.
It is vitally important for Canada to place first or second in this tournament and make a return to the higher ranks involving ODI matches on an ongoing basis. There have been too many years in the doldrums of playing in lower ranking tournaments and qualifying events with almost no room for a loss or where bad weather wipes out a game or two against weaker ranked opposition.
A return to ongoing series of ODI matches and tournaments could also help bring in much needed sponsorship and funds as well as provide opportunities for promising young players to gain experience against higher quality international opposition. But various aspects of what “could” be done are dependent upon solid work behind the scenes; a topic for another day and many past days!
Outline of How Teams Reached this Qualifier Playoff
Seven teams participated in World Cup League 2 where each country was scheduled to play 36 games, games that carried ODI status. There were a number of changes in game schedules due to the pandemic but, eventually, Scotland, Oman and Nepal finished in the top three to advance to the World Cup Qualifier in Zimbabwe. So, as previously noted, the bottom four – Namibia, USA, UAE and Papua New Guinea – find themselves in this “Qualifier Playoff”. A “playoff” tournament to reach the “Qualification” tournament for this year’s ODI World Cup.
Scotland topped League 2 with 50 points and 24 wins from 36 matches. Oman had 21 wins and placed second with 44 points. Nepal managed 19 wins and ended up third with 40 points, one point ahead of Namibia, who also won 19 matches. USA won 16 games on the way to 35 points, just ahead of the UAE who recorded 15 wins and ended on 33 points. Papua New Guinea was left adrift at the foot of League 2 with just 5 wins and 11 points.
Canada topped World Cup Challenge League Division A thanks to 13 wins, 1 loss and 1 no result. There were three series of round-robin matches in a qualifying tournament that lasted much longer than originally expected due to the global impact of COVID-19, Indeed, the dates for the actual 2023 Cricket World Cup were pushed back.
Malaysia hosted the first series of matches back in September 2019. Canada hosted the second series in July and August 2022, some two years after it was originally scheduled. Malaysia then hosted the third and final series of matches in December 2022.
Jersey edged out Uganda due to a better net run rate to finish top of World Cup Challenge League Division B. Jersey began poorly, losing their first two matches against Uganda and Hong Kong in the first series of group matches played in Oman in December 2019. Jersey also lost to Kenya in that opening series, but Jersey battled back to beat Uganda in the two subsequent series of group matches. Jersey beat Uganda in the Ugandan capital Kampala in June 2022 and followed up with a win at home in August 2022.
So if Canada dent Jersey’s changes with a Canadian win on Monday (27 March) that would set a positive tone for the vital game against North American rivals USA on Wednesday. But every game in these short tournaments is vital. There is scope for a loss, as two teams advance to the actual World Cup Qualifier in Zimbabwe, but the thinking has to be : “win, win, win”. There’s not much scope for error in these events. “Error” could even include strange weather.
So best wishes to the Canadian squad, coaching and support staff for success in this vital tournament and a return to frequent ODI cricket.
ICC MEN’S CRICKET WORLD CUP QUALIFIER PLAYOFF FIXTURES
26 March 2023 Namibia v USA 09h30 (Wanderers CG)
27 March 2023 UAE v PNG 09h30 (Wanderers CG); Jersey v Canada 09h30 (United CG)
29 March 2023 Canada v USA 09h30 (Wanderers CG); PNG v Namibia 09h30 (United CG)
30 March 2023 Namibia v Jersey 09h30 (Wanderers CG); USA v UAE 09h30 (United CG)
1 April 2023 UAE v Canada (09h30, Wanderers CG); PNG v Jersey (09h30, United CG)
2 April 2023 PNG v USA (09h30, Wanderers CG); Namibia v UAE (09h30, United CG)
4 April 2023 Canada v Namibia (09h30, Wanderers CG); USA v Jersey (09h30, United CG)
5 April 2023 Jersey v UAE 09h30 (Wanderers CG); Canada v PNG (09h30, United CG)