Uganda will meet superpowers Namibia and UAE in the opening days of the ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier 2013, the International Cricket Council (ICC) said as it announced the schedule of the tournament which will take place in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) from 15 to 30 November, 2013.
Current Uganda national cricket coach Johan Rudolph led Namibia to their best days in global cricket.
In exactly 31 days, sixteen sides from across the globe will feature in the 15-day tournament which will be played at seven venues – Dubai International Cricket Stadium and ICC Academy grounds No.1 and No.2 in Dubai, Zayed Cricket Stadium and Abu Dhabi Ovals 1 and 2 in Abu Dhabi and the Sharjah Cricket Stadium.
The 16 teams have been divided into two groups with last year’s winner, Ireland, in Group A alongside Canada, Hong Kong, Italy, Namibia, Uganda, USA and the host United Arab Emirates, while Group B comprises of Afghanistan, Bermuda, Denmark, Netherlands, Nepal, Kenya, Papua New Guinea (PNG) and Scotland.
Uganda will also meet Canada, Hong Kong, Italy, Namibia and USA.
During tour to UAE, Uganda are also expected to play two practice matches – with two teams from group B on November 12 and November 13 to acclimatize.
The top six sides in the tournament will qualify for the ICC World Twenty20 2014 scheduled to be held in Bangladesh in March next year. The qualifying teams will form part of the opening round of Twenty20 cricket’s crowning event.
ICC’s Global Development Manager, Tim Anderson, said: “The time has come once again for important and prestigious event on the ICC calendar in which 16 leading members amongst the Associates and Affiliates will vie for the six available places in the ICC World Twenty20 Bangladesh 2014.
“This final qualifier is the last step of a pathway that comprised 11 ICC regional tournaments during 2012 and 2013, this time we will see six teams gain the opportunity to be a part of the global tournament to be held next year.”
This is the third time that the ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier is being held in the UAE. The tournament was last hosted in the country in 2012 and saw Afghanistan and Ireland claiming the qualifying positions.
The Chief Executive of the Emirates Cricket Board (ECB), David East, said: “We are happy and excited to host the ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier 2013 for the third successive year…
“This qualifying event for next year’s ICC World Twenty20 2014 will take place ahead of the ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup 2014, an event billed as the finishing school for future stars. The allocation of these two important events is an illustration of the faith and confidence the ICC has on the ECB in producing quality events.
“The ECB will ensure that it lives up to its high standards and will try it make the events memorable for the players, officials, spectators, media and the sponsors.”
According to the tournament format, the sides that will top the two groups at the conclusion of the group stages will automatically qualify for Bangladesh 2014 without having to make the final of the ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier 2013.
Meanwhile, the sides that finish second and third in the two groups will play cross-over matches to be played at Dubai International Cricket Stadium on 27 November in a double-header. The two winners will also progress to the ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier 2014.
The sides that finish fourth and fifth in the two groups will also play cross-over matches, to be played at ICC Academy Oval 1 and Oval 2 respectively. The winners of these two matches will then play the losers of the third v fourth cross-over fixtures; the victors of these matches will then also progress into the ICC World Twenty20 Bangladesh 2014.
Once the six qualifying teams have been identified, the winner of Group A will play the winner of the A2 v B3 play-off and the winner of Group B will play the winner of the A3 v B2 play-off, the victors of these two games will then progress to the final of the tournament.
The losers of the semi-finals will then play each other in the third/fourth play-off while the final two qualifying sides will play a fifth/sixth play-off. The rankings of the teams overall from this event will then identify as to which group they will go into for the first round of the ICC World Twenty20 2014 tournament, alongside Bangladesh and Zimbabwe.
The top eight Twenty20 sides, from the Full Members have automatically qualified for the second round of the ICC World Twenty20 2014, while the top two sides from the first round will join them later in the event.
Background of ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier
The ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier has grown in stature since it was first held in Belfast, Ireland, in August 2008. That event comprised the then six top Associate Members – Bermuda, Canada, Ireland, Kenya, Netherlands and Scotland.
Ireland and Netherlands shared the trophy when the final was washed-out without a ball being bowled. The two sides, along with Scotland which replaced Zimbabwe, qualified for the ICC World Twenty20 2009 which was staged at Lord’s, The Oval and Trent Bridge in England. Pakistan won the tournament beating Sri Lanka in the final at Lord’s.
The UAE hosted the second edition in February 2010 which was contested by the six sides having first-class and T20I status – Afghanistan, Canada, Ireland, Kenya, Netherlands and Scotland – as well as hosts UAE and United States of America (USA) who were specially invited by the ICC.
After 17 matches over six days at two venues in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, Afghanistan and Ireland reached the final and qualified for the ICC World Twenty20 2010 which was staged in the West Indies and won by England. Afghanistan won the qualifying tournament when it defeated Ireland by eight wickets.
This 2012 edition of the tournament was also played in the UAE and was contested between Afghanistan, Netherlands, Canada, Papua New Guinea, Hong Kong, Bermuda, Denmark, Nepal, Ireland, Kenya, Scotland, Namibia, Uganda, Oman, Italy and USA.
The tournament, played in March 2012, was ultimately won by Ireland who defeated Afghanistan in the final, with both sides making it through to the ICC World Twenty20 Sri Lanka 2012 which was ultimately won by the West Indies.
The senior men’s team returned from South Africa early this month having won two of the three limited overs games (50 overs) and went unbeaten in six Twenty20 games but the 52-year-old South African reckons there is still work to do.
“The teams we played were not the strongest we will ever face which is why I won’t read much into the results,” Rudolph said.
The coach was also impressed with the players’ fitness having seen his side play nine games in space of eight days. The one player Rudolph thinks can improve in that area is Patrick Ochan.
The lanky 25-year-old that turns out for Sturt Cricket Club in South Australia has been inactive for a while as the season there has just started. “We are getting him into shape but he should be okay by the end of this month,” the former Namibia coach said.
After the South African tour, the coach says he also assessed players that did not travel with the team but got a chance against English side
Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) last week for a series of games. “I wanted to see how players like Hamza (Saleh), Deus (Muhumuza) and Daniel (Ruyange) perform.”
“In a few days when we depart for Dubai, my team will have gel,” he added.