Tuesday, 5 November 2013

The Sixteenth Post : World T-20 Qualifiers and the Partially Permeable Membrane Theory of Movement

The upcoming World T-20 Qualifiers to be held in the U.A.E. this November are a big chance for the sixteen associate and affiliate nations involved to take a step up and play in the major leagues with the big boys. (Let’s leave the fact that the first round of the world T-20 is really just another qualifying round as most of the full members have already instantly accessed the “2nd” round (or the super ten as its being called) and the frustration that creates to another article.)

My main aim with this article is to have a look at who will most likely prosper and get promoted to the World T-20 and my ownpersonal views on how the positioning of the various nations could shuggle around. First, a quick explanation of the format used for these qualifiers.There are 16 teams in total, the teams that finished in the top 6 positions at the last qualifiers tournament, the hosts U.A.E., and the rest that have come through regional tournaments, that will bedivided into two groups of 8. Both groups will be played in a round robin format with the top three of each progressing to the playoff rounds and the also qualifying for the World T-20.

At first glance group “A” looks like the easier group as there are only 3 high performance nations included in it and, with Canada finishing last in the World Cricket League Championship and the U.A.E. not even holding official One Day International status, Ireland seem to have it easy sitting at the top of the tree. 

Group “B” looks to be the more difficult of the groups as there are four high performance nations included.However, if we examine how the groups were divided according to ranking we will see that, in theory at least, things look pretty even after all.

The  groups are divided according to the result of last edition of the same tournament with the nations who finished in the top 6 gaining automatic qualification for this one ... The final Ranking of the top 6 in the  previous tournament was ...
1. Ireland 
2. Afghanistan 
3. Namibia 
4. Netherlands 
5. Scotland 
6. Canada

The U.A.E. have been given entry to this tourney by virtue of being the host and are deemed to be ranked as asia1 which = 7th seed.The remaining nations have all come through regional qualifying tournaments which see them divided into groups (which includes their #seed position) like such...

Group "A"
Ireland (1st place finish in previous world T-20 qualifiers #1)
United Arab Emirates (included as host as Asia 1 #7)
Canada (6th place finish in previous world T-20 qualifiers #6)
Namibia (3rd place finish in previous world T-20 qualifiers #3)
Uganda (qualified as runner up Africa region (Africa 2) #14)
United States of America (qualified as winner Americas region (Americas 1) #12)
Italy (qualified as winner Europe region (Euro 1) #10)
Hong Kong (qualified as runner up Asia region (Asia 3) #15)



Group "B"
Afghanistan (2nd place finish in previous world T-20 qualifiers #2)
Netherlands (4th place finish in previous world T-20 qualifiers #4)
Scotland (5th place finish in previous world T-20 qualifiers #5)
Kenya (qualified as winner Africa region (Africa 1) #9)
Nepal (qualified as winner Asia region (Asia 2) #11)
Papua New Guinea (qualified as winner East Asia pacific region (E.A.P. 1) #8)
Bermuda (qualified as runner up Americas region (Americas 2) #13)
Denmark (qualified as runner up Europe region (Europe 2) #16)



Given that these are how the groups are set up here is a look ahead to my predictions for possible finishing positions in the group stages.
I think that most people see the top finishers in each group as foregone conclusions (and I certainly think that myself) however I can see the possibility of some movement up and down the rankings. Although it may be difficult for many nations to break through the barrier that exists it is not impossible. 

I imagine the barrier between movement of nations in the rankings to be like a partially permeable membrane, which allows some things to permeate and pass through its membrane, but it does not allow everything to do so.
I have laid out my predictions of the finishing positions of the group stages below and included where I believe the partially permeable membrane to be.

Group “A”

Ireland (1st place finish in previous world T-20 qualifiers #1)
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------
United Arab Emirates (included as host as Asia 1 #7)
Canada (6th place finish in previous world T-20 qualifiers #6)
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Namibia (3rd place finish in previous world T-20 qualifiers #3)
Uganda (qualified as runner up Africa region (Africa 2) #14)
United States of America (qualified as winner Americas region (Americas 1) #12)
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Italy (qualified as winner Europe region (Euro 1) #10)
Hong Kong (qualified as runner up Asia region (Asia 3) #15)


Ireland is not top seed and regarded as most likely to finish first over the whole comp for nothing. They have shown in the two years since last winning this comp that they can move onwards and ever upwards by topping every competition or tournament put in front of them (WCLC, I-Cup). They seriously challenge full members every time they play them and their setup looks to move from strength to strength despite England poaching their breakthrough players regularly.

1st place is theirs to lose and the only two nations that can challenge them to top the group are the two that are just below the partially permeable membrane that separates them from the rest, Canada and the U.A.E.

While I don't think either of these nations can mount a serious challenge to breaking through this barrier (the U.A.E. have the best chance being a team on the improve over the last couple of years and also having home conditions advantage, meanwhile Canada are a team on the slide despite drafting back into the fold some of their more dynamic players one gets the feeling that, at best, Canada are too erratic to hold together any semblance of consistency but more likely doomed to continue the downward slide by failing to live up to their potential.) However, it is only these two nations that have the chance to push through the membrane and displace Ireland.

Many pundits will think this is a tough assessment on Namibia especially considering that they finished third in the previous edition of this competition. However their #3 seeding is based on their performance in that competition two years ago and not on anything since then, like their lack of progress since then (finishing in the lower ranks of the WCLC) not to mention problems with player selection (without even touching on the difficult issue of quotas for black players and the withdrawal of valuable sponsorships which may have been attributed to lack of meaningful integration with that demographic, Namibia are without their star batsman, Geri Snyman, due to differences with the governing board). Added to this is the opinion that many pundits believe that Namibia’s success last time was an anomaly that can happen with any, well prepared, dark horse and we can assume that this time they will not have the firepower or the element of surprise that they did last time around and will not be able to trouble Ireland who are separated by two membranes (I mentioned earlier that the partially permeable membrane allows some things to pass through but does not allow everything to do so. The only things that can pass through any membrane are items from the neighbouring/bordering membrane.)

That is not to say that Namibia can't push through the membrane that separates them from the U.A.E. and Canada, that may well be likely, (and Canada is the nation most likely to slide down and swap places with Namibia) but I believe that only one membrane can be punctured at a time.

Saying that, while Canada and U.A.E.  are the only ones able to break the membrane that separates them from Ireland at the top, they are also able to fall through the lower membrane that separates them from the next group of hopefuls which includes U.S.A. Uganda and the aforementioned Namibia. 
Uganda and U.S.A., while possible to push through into the above group, are more likely to jostle for position within their own section while fighting to keep Italy and Hong Kong from breaking away from the lowest reaches of the groups.

For their part, Italy and Hong Kong can only move upwards from the bottom of group “A” into the middle/bottom of group “A” but will be determined to do so at the expense of any qualifier who takes their eye of the ball or underestimates them. 

Meanwhile, in group “B”, we can see a nearly identical scenario with various divisions separated by partially permeable membrane which allows for movement of nations between the membranes that separate them from their next closest groupings. 

Group “B”

Afghanistan (2nd place finish in previous world T-20 qualifiers #2)
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------Netherlands (4th place finish in previous world T-20 qualifiers #4)
Scotland (5th place finish in previous world T-20 qualifiers #5)
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Kenya (qualified as winner Africa region (Africa 1) #9)
Nepal (qualified as winner Asia region (Asia 2) #11)
Papua New Guinea (qualified as winner East Asia pacific region (E.A.P. 1) #8)
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Bermuda (qualified as runner up Americas region (Americas 2) #13)
Denmark (qualified as runner up Europe region (Europe 2) #16)

In case you haven't understood what I’ve mentioned previously let me try by way of example. Take The Netherlands and/or Scotland. From where I have placed them (and once again let me reassert that this is my own predictions and they are just that, personal predictions.) it is possible (but not very probable) for them to challenge Afghanistan for the top position. Afghanistan are the closest rivals to Ireland and have been the only other associate member to challenge them finishing 2nd to them in both the WCLC and the I-cup (After the group rounds of the I-cup Afghanistan finished 2nd behind Ireland. The final is to be played after these qualifiers.). They are showing real depth of talent that should serve them well in the future as they continue to grow and develop the confidence that will surely lead to them defeating a full member sooner rather than later.

Either The Netherlands (who have recently come out of a long rebuilding process to start making moves toward flexing their cricketing muscles again despite the loss of players to the English or world professional circuits) or Scotland (whose own long rebuilding process either has not led to them emerging with the same muscle of 5 years ago or has faltered along the way leaving them stranded mid table in everything they touch. Perhaps the added coaching support from former captain and current under 19 coach, Craig Wright, will draw out some steel and fight from the senior lads as well as former England international Paul Collingwood, also on board as assistant coach, who will no doubt add a bit of grit and ginge into their currently pally-wally demeanour) could break through the partially permeable membrane and knock Afghanistan out of it. 

It is also possible that they could fall through the partially permeable membrane that separates them from Kenya, Nepal andP.N.G. (Scotland are most in danger of that fall from grace due to their lacklustre performances recently and will surly be the nation that the developing nations target in this group).
However it seems inconceivable that Scotland or The Netherlands could play so badly and lose so often that they would find themselves in the bottom grouping of group “B”. There is really only room for each nation to breakthrough one membrane barrier at a time (it is, after all, a ‘partially’ permeable membrane. This means that it only lets some item through its barriers and not all things and only enough movement/momentum to pierce one membrane at a time). 

Likewise, Kenya, Nepal and P.N.G. may fall down the group to be replaced by Bermuda or Denmark (possible but unlikely) (Kenya are the nation most in trouble of falling further down the international rankings as they have been failing to pull together any consistency for more years than they like to admit while their selection policy seems to be more backward looking than forward looking at the moment recalling two retired senior pros both in their 40's for this tournament) or they could move up to push out Scotland or The Netherlands (also possible but unlikely) (Nepal and P.N.G. look the most likely to threaten for this possibility and while it is possible for both these hugely talented and hungry for success nations to claim a scalp of a higher ranked nation in the section above them it will be a harder proposition for them to displace a nation from the tier above them at the moment. 
Games involving them in this comp will be worth watching though as they will push all teams hard and will probably even emerge victorious and claim an upset or two but may not claim enough to push through the membrane directly above them) but it just seems impossible for them to move up the rankings so dramatically that they replace Afghanistan at the top of the table.

That would require plateau jumping that even the most optimistic one eye supporter would find hard to grasp in reality.

This leaves Bermuda (struggling to halt the slide that has seen them in freefall down the world cricket league rankings) and Denmark (attempting to kick-start the rise to regaining the heights of being considered one of the best 5 associate nations in Europe again) to squabble it out for bottom ranking in group “B” and unlikely to move through the partially permeable membrane above them.  So there it is. My explanation of why the groups contain the nations they do, my predictions of the positions of where each nation will end after the 1st round and why some movement will be possiblewithin the groups but why this movement will be limited via explanation of the partially permeable membrane theory.

After the first round the top three from each group go through to the playoffs to determine what ranking they will receive for the 2014 World T-20 held in Bangladesh. Meanwhile the remaining nations finishing outside the qualification zone also battle it out with playoff games held the determine ranking positions right down to a playoff for 15th/16th place.

With 72 games in 15 days it will capture the imagination and passion of associate nation cricket lovers the world over as it’s a glut of good times unmatched in excitement and anticipation since the last T-20 qualifier 2 years ago.


For those interested, here are the rankings after the previous event from 2011. Draw your own partially permeable membrane where you think fit and see how true your predictions of ranking movement become.

The final Ranking of the previous tournament was ...

1. Ireland
2. Afghanistan
3. Namibia
4. Netherlands
5. Scotland
6. Canada
7. Nepal
8. P.N.G.
9. Kenya
10. Italy
11. H.K.
12. U.S.A.
13. Bermuda
14. Uganda
15. Oman
16. Denmark



 

No comments:

Post a comment