Overcoming the associate inferiority complex

I've often felt that there is something of an inferiority complex in associate cricket that causes associate boards and selectors to automatically assume that anyone who has played for a full member is always better than anybody who is homegrown. This can happen at all levels, be it players, coaches and administrators.

There are, of course, some hidden gems uncovered that have been overlooked in full member nations, such as Ryan ten Doeschate, John Davison or Joe Scuderi. But sometimes you get Canada picking a South African who'd been retired for three years as their captain in Davy Jacobs or Stewart Heaney on the strength of some experience with the Australian academy, the latter of whom was largely a failure.

In these cases there are often homegrown candidates who are more than capable of filling the roles but end up missing out due to this inferiority complex. If these players are from full members, they must be better, some seem to think.

So it was welcome to see Papua New Guinea hire former Italian international Carl Sandri as their new head coach recently. Sandri has a foot in both camps of course as he was born and raised in Australia, but associate players are often not considered for coaching roles. His former Italian teammate Gareth Berg also has a coaching job with his old national side.

Hopefully we will soon see a head coach of a major associate who was the product of either that or another associate member.

Actual cricket takes place

After an understandably barren 2020 following on from a very busy 2019 it was great this past week to see some actual international cricket take place in an associate nation this past week as Uganda toured Namibia for three T20Is and two 50-over matches.

Whilst the tour wasn't much of a success for the Ugandans who lost all five matches, they will have gained some valuable knowledge of what awaits them should they continue their unbeaten start in their CWC Challenge League group. Hopefully it won't be over a year until their next matches!

Associate cricket on TV

It was announced this week that the upcoming T20I tri-series in Nepal that will also involve the Netherlands and Malaysia will be televised in the UK on FreeSports. The channel has become something of a bastion of free-to-air cricket coverage in recent months having televised Ireland's matches against the UAE and Afghanistan earlier this year as well as the recent Afghanistan v Zimbabwe matches in the UAE.

It's not clear at the time of writing whether fans will be allowed in the ground, but if they are then UK viewers will get to see the passion that exists for cricket in Nepal, as well as what could well be a closely fought series.

The Netherlands don't have any of their county players, and Malaysia beat Nepal the last time they played back in February 2020 so the teams are more evenly balanced than the ICC rankings may suggest. The series starts on 17th April.

Canadian season at risk

The announcement that the Global T20 Canada league's 2021 season would be played in Kuala Lumpur later this year and the ICC moving a CWC Challenge League series set for August to the following year naturally raises questions about the planned international season in Canada.

The Canadians are set to host the Americas leg of T20 World Cup qualifying and the Auty Cup series against the USA in July. The province of Ontario, particularly Toronto, is being hit hard at present time by the pandemic with Friday having the second highest number of new cases since the start of the pandemic. The Toronto Blue Jays baseball team are currently playing their home games in Dunedin, Florida and will be moving to Buffalo next month with no firm date on a return to Toronto.

Whilst the ICC haven't said anything about the T20 World Cup qualifier, moving a series that was planned for August out of the country does suggest that a series in July may also be at risk.