Forthcoming Asian tournament dates announced
The Asian Cricket Council has announced their provisional schedule of tournaments for the remainder of 2008 into early 2009. Included is the return of the Asia Cup for the first time since 2004, which will still include two associate nations, the first Under-17 tournament since 2005, the new two division ACC Trophy and the first Women's Under-19 tournament.
The tournament calendar gets under-way with the Asia Cup. Originally scheduled for April, this will now be played in late June/early July, with Pakistan acting as hosts for the first time. The four Asian Test nations will take part, whilst the ACC has not taken the ICC's lead and kept the number of associates the same as 2004. Hong Kong and the UAE, ACC Trophy finalists in 2006, will make up the six team tournament.
The UAE will be in a group with Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, whilst Hong Kong coming up against India and Pakistan. Two teams progress from each first round group, which would be a great opportunity should either of the two associates pull of an upset. At which point of course the old "one bad day and you're out" argument will come into play!
This will be followed later in July by the ACC Trophy Elite Division. The ACC have not announced a host for this tournament, but the Malaysian Cricket Association have indicated that they will be the hosts for the third consecutive tournament. Ten teams are taking part in the tournament, with Afghanistan, Bahrain, Hong Kong, Kuwait, Nepal, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore and the UAE joining the hosts.
In November, the Under-17s will play at Elite and Challenge Division levels. Bahrain, Bhutan, Brunei, Hong Kong, Kuwait, Nepal, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore and the UAE play in the Elite Division, whilst Afghanistan, Bhutan, China, Iran, Maldives, Myanmar, Oman and Thailand make up the Challenge Division. Venues are yet to be confirmed for the tournaments.
That will be followed by the first Women's Under-19 Championship, with Bhutan, China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Nepal, Qatar, Singapore, Thailand and the UAE taking part at a venue to be announced. Bhutan and Qatar will be fielding women's representative sides for the first time.
January 2009 will see the ACC Trophy Challenge Division take place, Bhutan, Brunei, China, Iran, Maldives, Myanmar, Oman and Thailand will be playing in that tournament, which will see China, talked of as a future Test playing nation by Malcolm Speed, within his own lifetime, finally play their first international at senior men's level almost five years after becoming an ICC member.
No host has been announced for that tournament, but with China set to host the Asian Games in 2010, which will feature cricket, they may wish to use the tournament as a "warm-up" for their facilities.
Asian associates and affiliates will also be playing in all Divisions of the World Cricket League throughout 2008/2009, and the World Cup Qualifier (formerly the ICC Trophy) is to be played in Dubai in 2009.