Away from the glamour of the World Cup and the less glamorous but crucial final round of European qualifying for next year's T20 World Cup, another cricket tournament caught the eye of many last week. It featured no nations with a particularly high profile, but it became notable for the impact it had on the record books for Women's T20Is.

It was the Kwibuka Women's Twenty20 tournament held in Rwanda. The sixth time the tournament -held to commemorate the victims of the 1994 Rwandan genocide - has been played, in addition to the hosts, it also featured Uganda, Tanzania and - making their debut in the tournament - Mali. Kenya were a late withdrawal.

Mali, to be frank, were terrible. In their first match they were bowled out for six - the lowest Women's T20I total - and lost by 10 wickets. The next day, it was just 11 and they again lost by 10 wickets. Thursday, Uganda batted first against them and scored 314-2, the first 300 plus total in T20I cricket, men's or women's. Mali were bowled out for 10.

The thrashings continued. On Friday, they conceded 246-1 against Rwanda, but did at least manage to bat out their 20 overs in reply, scoring 30-9. Saturday, Tanzania scored 285-1, Mali bowled out for 17. Then Sunday, bowled out for 14 and lost by 10 wickets against Uganda. It's unlikely that any cricket team has had a week as bad as that.

The responses were as depressing as they were predictable. "I call on the ICC to reverse its decision, and retain international status only for the top tier of competition, so that the records of the the most skilled are not tainted with the performances of those who are clearly only learning the game", pompously proclaimed an Australian statistician with a rather exaggerated sense of his own importance.

"Is calling it international cricket a problem?", lamented a (now deleted) article on the usually excellent CricketHer website. The obvious answer to that is that Mali is a country, and they were playing cricket matches against other countries, therefore it's international cricket. But as ever in cricket, it isn't always as simple as that.

It won't come as a surprise to regular readers of this website that cricket has long been a rather exclusionary sport, particularly when it comes to status and statistics. Statistical markers are held in higher regard than in any other sport. Figures like 99.94, 400, 19-90 are instantly recognisable to long-time cricket fans. But the high regard they're held in causes problems. Bradman's career Test average of 99.94 is seen almost as holy scripture and not for what it actually is - simply the measure of one man's performance in Test cricket over a 20 year period.

As such cricket has always been very conservative over giving teams full "international" status, until last year when the ICC surprisingly announced that T20I status would be expanded to cover all ICC members. It applied to women's teams from July last year, and to men's teams from January this year.

Some, including myself, were sceptical. Would this change have any real impact on associate members. But it has. For some countries, having their matches actually count has opened up more opportunities for government funding and corporate sponsorship. But, as this tournament has shown, it has brought something else to the table.

The previous five times this tournament was played, it passed without notice. Few cared when Mali played in the Women's North-West African Championships a few years ago. This time, it was one of the top stories on Cricinfo. It was mentioned on Test Match Special. None of that happens without the matches actually counting.

But the responses are often of the negative variety. It's not "how do we make Mali better at international cricket?", it's "should Mali be stopped from playing international cricket?". The people saying the latter will be at pains to say they're not against the globalisation of cricket. They claim to be inclusive. "Some of my best friends are associates", one can almost imagine them saying. When they're against something that is having a real and positive impact on the globalisation of cricket, are they really supportive of said globalisation?

Contrast this with the story of the American Samoa national football team. In 2001, they entered qualification for the World Cup for the first time. They were terrible. They started by losing 13-0 to Fiji, then 8-0 to Samoa, before the nadir of their campaign when they were demolished by Australia by a margin of 31-0.

Whilst American Samoa never played Australia again, they were allowed to carry on playing. More comprehensive defeats followed in 2005 and 2007 in qualification for 2006 and 2010 respectively. But development was underway. Football was being played in schools, and the local association hired a series of foreign coaches.

In 2011, ahead of qualifying for 2014, they hired Dutch born, American based coach Thomas Rongen. As documented in the award winning documentary "Next Goal Wins", he brought a degree of professionalism previously unseen on the island, and they finally won their first official international, beating Tonga 2-1. They finished qualifying with one win, one defeat and one draw.

Improvement continued, and in 2015 they entered qualification for the 2018 World Cup and almost went past the first round of Oceania qualifying. They won two and lost one, essentially missing out on the second round by just one goal.

At no point in that 14 year journey did anyone of any importance say that they shouldn't be allowed to play international football. Nobody said that their games shouldn't be counted. They were encouraged, and they developed. Yes, they're unlikely to be world beaters any time soon, and nobody would imagine them competing against the likes of Brazil or Germany. But they're allowed to play.

You don't solve the problem of Mali being bad at women's international cricket by stopping them playing it. Quite the opposite in fact. They should be playing MORE international cricket. Yes, they'll get thrashed again. Yes, they're probably never going to be as good as Australia or India. But yes, their matches should still continue to count towards the record books. Just as football statisticians and fans can put American Samoa's 31-0 defeat to Australia in its proper context, cricket statisticians and fans can do the same to Mali's 304 run defeat to Uganda.

Eventually Mali's lowest T20I score of six will be a mere historical footnote, just as the lowest first-class total - also six as it happens - is. The team that made that lowest total? The Bs. Who were they? A team made up of players with a surname beginning with B, plus a few guests. Perhaps the statistical record book isn't as sacrosanct as the people decrying Mali's inclusion seem to think it is.