Bhutan to play Pepsi ICC World Cricket League Division 8

ICC WCL 2010 Logo

ICC WCL 2010 Logo

Bhutan’s senior national cricket team will compete for the first time in Pepsi ICC World Cricket League, Division 8 scheduled to take place in Kuwait this November.
Bhutan and Kuwait – the only teams qualifying from Asia – will take on Suriname and Vanuatu in Group A. Gibraltar, Bahamas, Zambia and Germany are placed in Group B.  The eight-team event will form part of the qualifying process for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 to be held in Australia and New Zea land.

Bhutan & Kuwait team members, ACC trophy 2010

Bhutan & Kuwait team members, ACC trophy 2010

This is a dream come true for Bhutan Cricket which started competing at international level tournaments in 2003. For the young Bhutanese cricketers coming thus far and moving toward World Cup Cricket is commendable. But are we ready for this? This is the question that has been on my mind, having been part of the wins and losses of over a dozen international tournaments – the last one being the ACC Trophy Elite in Kuwait this April, where the Bhutanese national team got thrashed. The team was not relegated as Bahrain pull out from the tournament to allow Bhutan to play seventh-eighth positions.

Bhutan got the opportunity to be part of Pepsi ICC Cricket League Division 8 after giving constant performances in ACC events. Bhutan is competing in the ACC events every year in all age group level for ranking basis. Bhutan now ranks 46 in the world out of 104 countries. For a country with not much history in cricket, no full-size ground, inadequate equipment and a difficult climate, Bhutan has performed well and is climbing the rung. They have come back home with four runners up title from competing at several ACC tournaments – ACC U15 Challenge Cup 2006 and 2007, ACC U19 Challenge Cup 2008 and ACC Trophy Challenge Cup 2009.

ACC U15,Runners up 2006

ACC U15,Runners up 2006

This has raised the bar. Expectation of cricket fans and people alike from the Bhutanese team’s performance at ICC are high. But the ground realities of how the team is being trained are different.
With lack of a proper training field, most of the practice sessions are held at the Yangchenphug School ground. While grooming the batting and bowling skills can be done there, improving on match intelligence and fielding techniques remain a question.

YHSS practice net

YHSS practice net

Players who have been playing with international teams share a similar concern – how will they be able to compete with those teams who have been playing A-class cricket throughout the year.
In most tournaments that Bhutan has participated, the teams have just practiced their skills in the nets and on unleveled ground, even for fielding without a proper practice match.
While it is necessary to spend enough time in nets, it is more important to have a practice session where one gets familiar with both good and bad qualities and can develop accordingly. The Bhutanese cricketers have been managing this so far but they still lack match intelligence.

Thubten traps myanmars batsman

Thubten traps myanmars batsman

Adapting to turf pitch for Bhutanese cricketers is another difficult task. For many years most of the domestic matches were played on coir matting or synthetic pitches. While this has improved their skills, it has simultaneously hampered cricketers.

matting wicket

matting wicket

By and large batsmen who have played on matting or synthetic pitches have a tendency to play more of back-foot and cut and pull shots. They also bring in a lot of wrist play in batting. This is due to the extra bounce and variation of the surface that one encounters on matting pitches. The ball stays even in firm pitch but tends to skid after pitching. The batsmen get less time and hence get trapped in front foot or finds that he is too late to get his bat down on time.
More than anything else, cricket at this stage needs a square like before to at least to organize proper coaching and training programs to keep up the standard of Bhutan teams. Cricket board wants to assign a foreign coach to groom the senior team. But there’s not much a coach will be able to do without proper facilities in place.

This may seem an excuse to many for a bad performance, but it is a genuine concern. Good performance entails good practice and this is what the Bhutanese team needs at this juncture. Even the players’ dream of giving their best, but there has to be a proper springboard for realizing this dream. And for Bhutan’s cricket team it means having proper facilities to enhance skills and live up to the expectations. Selection will be tough. But what the Bhutanese team is willing to put in is their hard to at least be able to make it to the list of the final fourteen.

Edited by: Sherpem Sherpa
Related: Pepsi World Cricket League Division 8 Kuwait

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