5 February 2007

Top Associates now well placed to make mark at the highest level; WCL an outstanding success for ICC and Cricket Kenya

The ICC World Cricket League Division 1 (WCL Div. 1) has been the ideal preparation for the six Associate teams taking part in next month’s ICC Cricket World Cup according to ICC Global Development Manager Matthew Kennedy.

And he added the players from those sides – Bermuda, Canada, Ireland, Kenya, the Netherlands and Scotland – are now key figures in a new era for cricket on a global level.

Speaking at the event’s closing function in Nairobi tonight (Monday), ahead of Wednesday’s final between Kenya and Scotland, Mr Kennedy told the players that they each had the opportunity to become a major story in the Caribbean.

“Bearing in mind that in your countries the sport is not yet fully professional, your dedication and desire does not go unnoticed,” said Mr Kennedy.

“In this respect, you are not unlike the pioneers of the past, the cricketing greats of the major Test nations of the 1970s and even ’80s, who faced similar challenges and helped to create what the game is now in their respective homelands.

“It is clear you are already successfully setting a new standard for those that will follow you,” he said.

“To be selected to represent your country at your chosen sport – especially at this level of competition – is an outstanding achievement of which you should all be very proud.

“Now you have the opportunity now to shake up the world of one-day cricket and you should face that challenge with confidence and enthusiasm.  Please enjoy every moment because you have truly earned it,” he added.

Mr Kennedy paid tribute to Cricket Kenya and the local organising committee for staging what he described as an “outstanding” tournament.

“The tight results, the progression, the learning, the team performances and the individual heroics we’ve seen within it, go to show just how hard the players have worked and how far they have come,” he said.

“Cricket in Kenya has made some great strides in the past 18 months and the eyes of the cricketing world have certainly been on Nairobi over the past week or so. The organisers have pulled out all the stops, despite several challenges, to be superb hosts.”

The WCL Div. 1 is part of the ICC’s commitment to introducing more international competition and exposure to the Associates to help them close the gap between the top teams in the world and the next best through its High Performance Program.

Apart from the WCL Div. 1, the enhancement of the ICC Intercontinental Cup to a four-day competition, introduction of an intensive Winter Training Camp and several other key building blocks have been in place as teams prepare for this year’s ICC Cricket World Cup.

The final of this inaugural WCL Div. 1 takes place between Kenya and Scotland at the Nairobi Gymkhana on Wednesday. By reaching that stage, both teams have now qualified for the ICC Twenty20 World Championships in South Africa in September.

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