ICC Europe T20 Division 1 Guernsey/Jersey 2011

19th JulyNorwayLeague A
19th JulyCroatiaLeague A
20th JulyAustriaLeague A
20th JulyItalyLeague A
21st JulyAustriaLeague A
21st JulyItalyLeague A
22nd JulyGibraltarLeague A
23rd JulyDenmarkSemi-final
24th JulyJersey3rd/4th

PREVIEW

Guernsey Press

‘Guernsey aim to go global’       by Gareth Le Prevost

GUERNSEY’S quest for a place at the ICC World Twenty20 2012 Qualifier in the UAE begins in earnest today. As co-hosts of the European Division One T20 Championship along with Jersey, the island side’s campaign starts with matches against Norway and Croatia with a top-two finish in the six-strong group A and a semi-final spot the immediate objective.

‘The primary objective is qualification. That, first and foremost, is the key focus,’ said GCB chief executive Mark Latter, who added that it has not yet been clearly determined how T20 cricket will affect funding in the ICC.  ‘Obviously though, the more you win, the more successful you become in terms of funding and the like.’  In his role as tournament organiser for the Guernsey section of the championship, Latter hopes that the weather will be kind this week. ‘In the Twenty20 format, the rules allow you to get some sort of game in, even in a short space of time, and the forecast is for showers rather than heavy rain all week.’ he said. ‘We have got Thursday as a reserve day to fall back on if necessary, but hopefully the gods will smile on us.’

The two co-hosts are, on paper, among the favourites to make the semi-finals as all bar two of the nations – Denmark and Italy – will be looking for a first ever place in a global qualifier tournament. Denmark will be hoping to bounce back from a disappointing Pepsi ICC World Cricket League Division Three tournament in Hong Kong that saw them relegated. Italy also played in that tournament, finishing fourth, and it is these two teams, along with the hosts that, on paper at least, are most likely to be contesting the semi-finals. The other eight teams in the tournament should not be discounted, though.

Norway will be hoping to regain the form that saw them win Division Two back in 2006 and they have made wholesale changes to their squad, with only four returning from last year’s Division Two tournament in Guernsey.

Gibraltar are another team going through a period of change with the retirement of the long serving Christian Rocca and Richard Buzaglo. Promoted sides Belgium and Austria also pose a threat, and Belgium come into the tournament on the back of a win over France at the Continental Twenty20. Due to the previous scarcity of Twenty20 matches at this level, they have more international experience at the format than many of the competing teams, which could give them an advantage.

Israel beat two teams at Division Two last year and they will hope to go one better in 2011 and push for a semi-final spot.

With spin being an important part of Twenty20, the talented young leg-spinner Josh Evans could be a key player, while Eshkol Solomon will hope to repeat the form that saw him score the highest individual Israeli score against Gibraltar last year.

Germany, runners-up at Division Two in 2010, have retained seven of the squad that finished third at World Cricket League Division Seven in Botswana earlier this year, and are probably the best bet to break up the likely semi-finalists.

Finally, Croatia are something of an unknown quantity, having only played one international since the 2008 Division Two tournament in Guernsey, while France will, like Germany, be hoping to break into the semi-finals, and come into the tournament as the sixth highest ranked side. The 12 teams in the tournament are divided into two groups of six, with one group being played in Jersey and the other in Guernsey.

Once the first round is complete, the whole tournament decamps to Jersey, where semi-finals, play-offs and finals will be played to determine the places from one to 12. The two finalists will qualify for the 2012 ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier. The six associate/affiliate ODI status teams – Afghanistan, Canada, Ireland, Kenya, Nether- lands and Scotland – automatically qualified for the tournament, while Papua New Guinea recently became the sole East Asia Pacific representative. Uganda and Namibia have just been confirmed as the two African qualifiers, the two Americas qualifiers will be determined this week across the Atlantic, while the three Asian qualifiers will come from the ACC Twenty20 Cup in Nepal later this year.

 

‘Kirtley’s words of advice lift ‘death’ bowler’  by Gareth Le Prevost

EXECUTION of their plans is key for Guernsey if they are to succeed in the inaugural European Division One T20 Championship which starts tomorrow both here and in Jersey. That applies to Jamie Nussbaumer more than most as the 24-year-old has the responsibility of being his side’s ‘man at the death’. In the bish-bash format of Twenty20 cricket, it is a tremendous responsibility to have thrust upon you, but the Cobo paceman has proved adapt at it over the last couple of years. His concluding overs in the Clydesdale Bank International GPL final that secured the title for Mourant Ozannes emphasised just how much he thrives on the situation and there is a gleam in his eye when he admits that he would love to bowl for Guernsey with the opposition needing, say, seven to win off the final over of an international match.

‘I love the challenge of bowling at the death.’ he said. ‘I think you become better at something if you enjoy it and I find pressure situations bring the best out of me. ‘I am really looking forward to being involved in a tight game in the European tournament.’ Ironically, Nussbaumer’s success in the GPL meant that a man who has had a big influence on his cricket missed out on being on the winning side. ‘It was a great privilege to play with and against four quality pros in the GPL and I got the chance to speak to James Kirtley a lot about death bowling, which really helped.’ Nussbaumer said. The former England international seamer was more than willing to offer his advice on a wide range of issues affecting a bowler at the end of an innings such as variations of delivery, line and length, when to use slower balls and where to set the field.

Being a cricket nut, Nussbaumer took it all on board. It was a similar story when he was invited to join a group of Sussex professionals on a winter training camp in South Africa. ‘I spent four weeks in Port Elizabeth with the Sussex guys and although a knee injury meant I was not fit enough to bowl, being in a professional environment and around that type of cricketer gets you into good habits and you think about the game more. ‘While there, I was able to bat and pick up a few things in that part of my game and I feel I can add something to this side coming in lower down the order.’

Although still young, Nussbaumer is as experienced as almost any Guernsey player on the ICC, being one of the first names on any island squad list. He revealed, though, that the advent of international Twenty20 cricket for the side is an exciting time for all. ‘Leading on from a very successful GPL which really got the juices flowing, there is a definite buzz about this tournament,’ he said. ‘In Guernsey, over the years we have played a huge amount of this type of short game in the Evening League, so it is great to finally get an opportunity to put into action what we know as an island side and not just in club cricket.’

However, that also makes him weary of the nuances of the twenty20 format. ‘The shorter the format, the more it evens up a cricket match,’ he said. ‘It is the type of format where anyone can beat anyone and if you turn up complacent, you will lose. ‘We know these sides who have an Asian influence have batsmen who can hit the ball very cleanly and are very dangerous players, so we have to be at our best.’ Following on from the GPL, though, Nussbaumer does not believe that will be a problem. ‘That was one of the main benefits of the GPL – it was great preparation for us on the pitch, but it also showed us how draining it was playing two games in a day. ‘It felt like the intensity of island cricket rather than club cricket and it was surprising how mentally and physically draining it was. But it means that when the fourth game of the tournament comes on the second afternoon we know it will be testing because there are going to be a lot of tired bodies and I would like to think that we are one of the fitter and better fielding units in the competition.’

 

‘Energy-sapping format will last all week’

It is a marathon and a sprint. The European Division One T20 Championship opens with four games in two days for all 12 teams concerned and although that will amount to less overs of cricket than two days at a World Cricket League event, it will sap energy from the players to a totally different degree. In total, they are scheduled to play seven games in six days and those nations in group A, including pool hosts Guernsey, will spend Fri- day afternoon making the trip across to Jersey for the weekend play-offs.

Among those who suffer the most are the captains and Guernsey skipper Stuart Le Prevost has first-hand experience of consecutive games in a day from the Clydesdale Bank International GPL. ‘When we played back-to-back games on a Saturday in the GPL, it took much more out of me than a 50-over match does,’ said the 33-year-old who led BDO to the final before losing out to Mourant Ozannes. ‘The thing is, you are dealing with two separate but good quality matches within the space of a couple of hours. ‘The nature of a Twenty20 game is non-stop action, so when they come back-to-back in’ one day, you are completely drained at the end of it.’

The format can also lead to plans changing extremely quickly and thinking on your feet is vital for any captain. Le Prevost believes, though, that within the squad he has at his disposal, Guernsey have the options to cope with whatever is thrown at them. ‘We have a great deal of variety within the group, both with the bat and the ball,’ he said. Although Twenty20 is usually associated with the ball clearing the ropes, there is also a place for batsmen who can steer it into the gaps, run hard to pressurise the fielders and to keep the board ticking over. Bowling-wise, strike bowlers have a big role to play by nipping out a couple of batsmen early if they can, but you also need those who are simply accurate and you can set a field to. Having spin options is crucial too – taking the pace off the ball puts pressure on the batsmen to be more aggressive. An important thing in Twenty20 cricket is that if plan A isn’t working, you need to have several back ups.’ Experience of the opposition could also be key to Guernsey’s success. They have met the likes of Norway and Gibraltar on more than one occasion since admission into the ICC and they know that they pose a threat.

The same could be said of all sides in the championship. ‘When we played them in a 50-over WCL6 game in Singapore, the Norwegian captain opened the batting and just “teed off”,’ Le Prevost recalled. ‘He made 60-odd off just 50 balls, which included some massive sixes, and we were a bit dumbstruck, to be honest. That sort of thing can happen in any match, but in Twenty20 it can take the game away from you in the blink of an eye. That is why we have to approach every match properly because none of these sides are simply here to make up the numbers.’

 

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