ICC World T20 European Qualification 2018

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 ‘Guernsey get the luck of the draw’    by Rob Batiste (Guernsey Press)

Guernsey have to grab their chance of reaching the ICC World T20 Europe Final with both hands, says coach Ash Wright following the draw for this summer’s qualifiers. The Sarnians are the only one of the five seeds in the qualifiers to have been drawn in Group C and they face Gibraltar, Sweden, Czech Republic, Israel and Norway at the event, which takes place in the Netherlands from 29 August to 3 September.

The top two in the group at the end of the round-robin event will advance to the ICC World T20 Europe Final. ‘I’m not sure how they have done the groups but it looks a lot nicer than the one we had for World Cricket League Five,’ said Wright. ‘That does not mean we can take our foot off the gas because all these countries are getting stronger and in T20 it takes only one over to change a game. We have to make sure that we work hard to be on top of our game and make the most of this opportunity.’

Jersey have been drawn in Group B along with fellow seeded nation Italy as well as Belgium, Spain, Isle of Man and Finland. Denmark are the top-ranked nation in Group A and they will be facing Germany, France, Austria, Cyprus and Portugal. The European Qualifier and Final are part of a new, simplified qualification process for ICC global events that provides a merit-based pathway for every member announced by the ICC earlier this week.  As well as reducing the number of steps towards a global event, the new process also provides more regular competitive opportunities for more members with the ultimate aim of increasing the number of competitive teams in T20 cricket. The 18 teams will have an opportunity to join the four other European nations – England, Ireland, Scotland and Netherlands – who have already qualified for the ICC World T20 or the ICC T20 Global Qualifier.

‘It is incredibly exciting to see 22 European nations challenging for spots in the ICC World T20 2020,’ said ICC regional development manager Europe Ed Shuttleworth. ‘Eighteen of these teams will start their journey in the Netherlands on 29 August with the remainder joining in 2019 or 2020 itself. The number of national teams competing is evidence of the expansion of cricket across Europe and we look forward to this wonderful celebration of European cricket.’

‘Wright wants Greens to be ruthless in promotion bid’     Gareth Le Prevost, GEP

INSIDER knowledge suggests that the main threat to Guernsey’s ICC World T20 Europe Qualifier promotion push will come from Scandinavia. Island coach Ash Wright used his recent visit to the Under-19 European Division Two tournament in Essex to do some back- ground research on the teams his senior side will be coming up against in the Netherlands this week by speaking to other national coaches. ‘By the sounds of it, you’ve got Sweden and Norway who will be the stronger teams out of that group,’ said Wright of Group C that also includes Gibraltar, Israel and Czech Republic. Guernsey begin their campaign against Gibraltar today. ‘What I can gather from most teams is that they will all have a couple of really good batters, a couple of really good bowlers and the rest is a little bit what- ever happens on the day. ‘Being Twenty20, you only need one or two players to go well and things happen, but hopefully I think we are structured enough and well-organised enough – a good batting team, bowling team and fielding team – that, as long as we fight, we should definitely be able to get over the line. ‘We go into this knowing we are going to be playing some tough opposition and it’s a com- petition where every game’s a tough game.

‘We are not going to underestimate anyone at all, but if we can go in and make sure we are clinical in how we go about it, I -hope the results will take care of themselves: Although disappointed by the T20 Inter-Insular Series defeat, Wright believes that there is a mental aspect to playing against Jersey that does not affect his players in other matches which makes those results an anomaly rather than the norm. ‘Everyone is trying their best, sometimes they’re probably trying a bit too hard. I think it’s the occasion of the day that does it more than anything,’ he said of the Inter-Insular clashes. ‘It’s more a mental than a technical thing. I know that we will be able to do it, it’s just a case of getting over that line once to prove to everybody that you can do it and from that point we can carry on and play the cricket we normally do. ‘It’s a shame – if we could treat it like any other game … ‘We played against Sussex four weeks ago and we played excellently against a very strong team, so I’m really confident going into the tournament. ‘We obviously need to bat better than we did against Jersey, which I’m sure we will because we’ve got a deep batting line-up, we’ve got a good batting line-up. ‘I think we have got a very good T20 team, we just need to go and prove it. He did, though, take several positives away from the Jersey matches including the power-play bowling of Will Peatfield and Tom Nightingale as well as the overall bowling plans and the captaincy of Josh Butler in implementing them. ‘The bowlers and fielders did a great job, unfortunately we just didn’t bat well on the day. ‘But batting-wise there were still glimmers, like Luke Le Tissier going in and really showing what you could do if you actually go in there and put up a fight – he actually got us in a position to win a game of cricket.

‘Also, with Ferbs [Ben Ferbrache], he is becoming a senior batsman in the weight of runs he is scoring, which is excellent. Although the format of the Europe Qualifier gives each side a little leeway with the top two of each group of six nations progressing to next year’s Europe Final, Wright is adamant  that Guernsey are focusing only on winning every game. ‘We have to start fast, we’re playing against Gibraltar in the first game, and every game is a must-win game … we are going there to win the group. ‘We are going to have to start strong and the games come thick and fast but as long as we are clinical, in the way we go about our batting especially, we’ll come out with the results we need to if we play the cricket we can.’ The same 14 who travelled to Jersey for the Inter-Insular Series are on the trip to the Netherlands and while they are not all guaranteed to play, Wright insists they all have to be ready to do so. ‘The one thing you do learn over here is that it’s a 14-man squad and every single person is massively important,’ he said. ‘I’m telling the lads that we need to stay on top of injuries And things like that because it only takes one or two people to miss out and suddenly the team looks completely different. ‘I’ve got a starting line-up in mind. It depends on wickets and some other stuff, but once they are in possession, they are in possession. If it goes well and they are winning and hitting their straps, then they keep their place, it’s as simple as that.’