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[DreamCricket's coverage of all ICC events during 2013 was made possible by the New Inning Foundation.]
The 2013 ICC World T20 Qualifier begins this week in the UAE. Sixteen teams will compete for the six spots available for associate/affiliate nations as per ICC's new eligibility rules for the next ICC World Twenty20.
The sixteen teams are organized into two groups -
Group A - Ireland, Canada, Namibia, UAE, USA, Uganda, Hong Kong and Italy.
Group B - Scotland, Netherlands, Afghanistan, Papua New Guinea, Bermuda, Kenya, Nepal and Denmark.
Which associate/affiliate nations were invited to the 2012 Qualifier?
Participating countries include ten regional qualifiers from regional T20 tournaments and the top six finishers from the 2012 qualifiers.
Ireland, Scotland, Netherlands, Afghanistan, Canada and Namibia were the six top teams in 2012 Qualifier. The remaining countries won the regional qualifiers played during 2013. As many American cricket fans are aware, USA was undefeated in the Americas regional.
What is the qualification process this year at the WC T20Q?
Each group will play other members of the group in a round-robin format. Bottom three teams in each group are immediately eliminated and will play for 11 to 16 ranks.
The top five teams will all have a chance to qualify for the six available spots in the following manner. First, the top three teams from each group will compete to determine the top four positions. These four teams will qualify for the World Cup.
The two teams that didn't finish in the top four will have further competition in store. They are relegated to the fifth place playoffs where they compete with the fourth- and fifth-ranked teams from the Groups for the positions of five to ten. The fifth and sixth ranked teams will progress to the World Cup. In all, 72 matches will be played to decide the six qualifying teams.
What are they qualifying for?
The top six teams are qualifying for a chance to play in the 2014 ICC World Twenty20 in Bangladesh where they will join the ten full member countries. The fifth edition of the bi-annual tournament, will be held between March 16 and April 6, 2014.
How did the qualifying teams do in 2012?
In accordance with rules formulated for the 2012 ICC World Twenty20, only two associate countries won an entry through the qualifying tournament. Afghanistan and Ireland progressed to the 2012 ICC World Cup Twenty20 that took place in Sri Lanka but did not make it to the Super Eight stage in that tournament.
And yet, their's is a remarkable story. Afghanistan and Ireland are now ranked number 9 and 10 in global T20 rankings, respectively. Seventeen Irish players have full time contracts and Afghanistan now receives well over $800,000 in ICC funding as an associate nation. Both countries have also qualified for the 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup.
Who are the Team USA?
Neil McGarrell (captain), Timroy Allen, Danial Ahmed, Imran Awan, Barrington Bartley, Fahad Babar, Orlando Baker, Akeem Dodson, Karan Ganesh, Muhammad Asad Ghous, Elmore Hutchinson, Japen Patel, Adam Sanford, Srinivasa Santhanam, Steven Taylor.
What are USA's prospects?
As Peter Della Penna wrote on this website in August, USA has gained a very favorable draw for the 2013 ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier. As per 2013 rules, the top five teams in each group will have a chance at advancing. This will allow mid-tier teams like the USA a greater margin of error to advance in spite of losses in group play. Based on the 2012 standings from group play, three teams with 3-4 losing records – Italy, Nepal and Papua New Guinea – would have still had a chance to qualify under the new structure.
Within its group, USA has a 1-0 record against UAE and should somewhat confident playing them. Italy, Namibia and Canada have also been conquered in the past and USA is not going to find them formidable. Uganda has defeated USA on each occasion in the past, but they too can be overcome if USA applies itself. Ireland and Hong Kong are strong teams that USA will find difficult to overcome. “Our goal is absolutely to qualify for the ICC World Twenty20. That is our main goal. We will try to finish in the top four to make qualification a bit easier. I think we can beat enough teams to ensure qualification as long as we all stick together.
USA Captain Neil McGarrell had this to say about his team's chances: “All the teams in our group are going to be tough, especially with only a few days there to warm-up and prepare. But once we are there we will have a good look at all the teams and analyse how we are going to go about it. We know Ireland is one of the main teams in our group and there are a few more teams that will provide very tough competition as well.”
McGarrell identified a trio of key players for his side, all of whom will have an important role to play in the USA’s attempt to qualify for the ICC World Twenty20 Bangladesh 2014.
“Timroy Allen, our vice-captain, will be very important for us as a batsman. He, alongside Steven Taylor, will be key for us. Muhammad Ghous, our off-spinner, will be important and I expect him, alongside myself, to be an integral part of our bowling attack,” said McGarrell.
Will there be live coverage?
Yes, there will be ball by ball coverage and some matches will also be telecast live by unaffiliated entities. Links will be posted on DreamCricket.com.
The full schedule is available here: http://www.icc-cricket.com/fixtures
Here is a schedule for Team USA: