Will Afghanistan and Ireland get enough competitive games?

The ICC has announced that Afghanistan and Ireland are now full member nations, which means that they now get Test status.

It is exciting and wonderful news for the hard working cricketers from both the nations who probably dreamt of this day since they started playing cricket.

Even though this is a great news, it also brings about the question if these two nations will be able to get enough competitive games.

The team before these two countries to get Test status was Bangladesh. Bangladesh for a long time struggled to get opportunities to play against the top nations especially away from home.

Bangladesh in their young 17-year career have played just 47 tests away from home, and the majority of their games have been against Sri Lanka against who they have been able to play regularly over the last 17 years.

They only played their first test in India just recently after 17 years of being granted the Test status. They have never played Pakistan in UAE and haven’t toured Australia since 2003.

Out of the 47 Tests 32 have come against four nations which are Sri Lanka, New Zealand, West Indies and Zimbabwe. The rest of the five teams in total have invited Bangladesh only for a grand total of 15 games in 17 years. That does not even equate to even one Test a year.

This is something which the ICC has to guard against. Bangladesh still does not get enough games against the top 5 nations. They haven’t played a game in England since 2010 and in South Africa since 2008. Those are pretty shocking numbers to be honest. When the world is calling Bangladesh a mediocre team in Tests, the stats above tells us why.

Both these teams would be incredibly excited at the prospect of competing against the top nations and it would be a disappointment if they have to resort to just playing with each other all the time.

The individual cricketing boards also have a part to play in this induction. Countries like India, England, Pakistan and Australia need to try and squeeze in series against these two teams regularly, even it is just for a game or two.

I understand that initially there might be lots of one sided games but they will improve with time and with enough opportunities against top teams.

The addition of Bangladesh and now Afghanistan and Ireland is wonderful for cricket in general and sends out a great message for other associate nations.

The rapid strides that Afghanistan has taken will give great confidence to other associate nations to take their cricket seriously.

This is a great day for cricket but again steps have to be taken that these teams are engaged effectively to keep the interest alive in their respective countries.

Hopefully the ICC and the rest of the countries realise that and do their part in development of cricket in these two countries.

Welcome Afghanistan and Ireland, and I hope you have a wonderful time playing Test cricket.

Read my original article at The Roar

World Cup 2011 – Good win for India but bowling still a concern

India had a rather comfortable win over the giant killers Ireland yesterday. Yuvraj’s great all-round performance was the highlight of yesterday’s game for the Indians. Dhoni won the toss and elected the bowl first and Zaheer struck right away. Zaheer bowled a brilliant line and had the Irish 2 down in quick time and it seemed like Dhoni’s decision to bowl first was vindicated. But when NJ O’Brien joined Porterfield in the middle the balance started to shift. The pair played sensibly to launch a brilliant counterattack. At this point India’s weakness in the bowling department raised its ugly head again.

Pathan, Bajji and Chawla were rather ineffective against the Irish pair as they looked geared up for a big total. Chawla was once again disappointing as he erred on the shorter side time and again to get cut and pulled by the batsmen. Bajji was steady without being threatening and same with Yusuf Pathan. When the proceedings seemed to be running out of control for the Indians, Dhoni introduced Yuvraj into the attack and suddenly everything kind of fell back in place for the men in blue. Yuvi broke the threatening partnership and the wickets started falling in regular intervals for the Irish. They were finally bowled out for 207 with Yuvi finishing with career best 5-31, his first five wickets haul. What a brilliant and timely spell that was for the Indians. After his introduction the luck changed for the Indians so much so that they even had couple of reviews going their way.

India had to chase 208 in 50 overs under lights and this was the first time Dhoni’s team was batting second in the world cup 2011. The top order stuttered a bit during the chase and was struggling at 100/4 when the captain joined India’s bowling hero of the day Yuvraj. Both of them played sensibly picking up ones and twos and hitting occasional boundaries. When Dhoni got out to Dockrell, the game was almost over. Yusuf Pathan came in and calmed the nerves of the fans by hitting couple of sixes. India won the game by 5 wickets with Yuvraj getting to 50 not out. It was a great game for the left hander as he took 5 wickets and a fifty in the same game.

It was a good win for the Indians as this got them back to the top of group B. India play Netherlands on Wednesday and that would be the best time to look at some options in the bowling ahead of the more important games. Chawla for sure needs to be rested as he has looked completely out of depth in the two games. Ashwin can be tried in his place. Munaf has been steady but can be rested for one game to see how Nehra has shaped up after the injury. India needs to try these options to make sure that all the bowlers are match fit. The game against Netherlands could be the last chance for India to try out some new combinations in the bowling department. The bowling and fielding except for the spells from Zaheer and Yuvraj looked rather flat again.

This would for sure be a big worry for the Indian think tank. So I hope that there would be few changes in the squad for the next game.