An emotional and distraught Peter Borren has made another impassioned plea to the ICC to give the Associates and Affiliates more opportunities to play, which eventually boils down to spending more money on them. His side Netherlands, perhaps had one bad over with the ball and another with the bat in their first match of this World T20, and they are already out of the event after a washout in their second match.
The World Cup, of a format that is considered the most ideal to spread the game to non-traditional outposts, is restricted to 10 teams, which leads to a cruel round of qualifying where only one of four teams goes through. There are no reserve days. This stage of the tournament is almost like a chore that has to be completed. For teams such as Netherlands, they hope they can make these three days the days of their lives, but don’t have any room for error.
“It’s a pretty emotional dressing room,” Borren said. “Guys have put a lot of work into this campaign. It started a year ago or close to that starting with the first part of the qualifier in Ireland and Scotland. We shared that trophy and played some really good cricket. We sit here now after playing three hours of cricket against Bangladesh, where we came up short. It’s extremely disappointing. Obviously we can’t do anything about the weather.
“There are obviously questions about how much we’ve had to do to get to this stage as it is. We’ve won a lot of games and an eight-run loss to Bangladesh and we’re gone. It’s hard to take.”
While Borren hoped there was a reserve day, he did repeat there can be no excuses for losing to Bangladesh after having competed evenly for 35.5 overs. Looking at the future, though, he was desperately disappointed. He had tweeted earlier in the day, imploring the weather to co-operate because the match was 10% of the cricket they were going to play all year. As of now, they are left with one more T20I, two one-day games against Nepal in the World Cricket League and a four-day game against Afghanistan, and that’s it for the rest of the year.
“It’s obviously not enough cricket, that’s fair to say,” Borren said. “If we had managed to get through here, it would have been fantastic. But today’s rain means that we’re in a position where we possibly won’t be playing in a world event for how many years [four]. And in this sort of environment, I’ve been lucky to have played in a few, but it seems like it’s becoming less opportunities for Associate teams, which is frustrating. For me, I’m getting older but some of our young guys… it’s pretty hard to tell a guy like Paul van Meekeren, for example, who bowls four overs, gets 2 for 17 against Bangladesh, that there might be another opportunity if we get really really good cricket over three-four years time. It’s pretty tough.”
What do they do to keep this team together and motivated given such few opportunities? “Keeping this unit together, I don’t know, time is an interesting thing,” Borren said. “We have got an interesting blend of experience and younger guys. We are not playing too much cricket. We move our attention to two days time, to the visit of Nepal and Afghanistan later in the summer. We’ve worked very hard to get where we are now. I’m very proud of what we’ve done in the World Cricket League and the I-cup but right now the feeling is absolutely devastated. It’s just a cruel, cruel place to be. I guess, I wish we could find those nine runs somewhere from the other night.”
“We’ve worked very hard to get where we are now. It’s just a cruel, cruel place to be. I guess, I wish we could find those nine runs somewhere from the other night”
What really seems to have hurt Borren is the fact that the ICC has becomes less concerned about Associates. He acknowledged the hard work of some passionate people at the ICC who work hard towards spreading the game, but asked for a more even share of the revenues cricket generates. “The level of Associate cricket has dramatically improved,” Borren said, crediting ICC’s high performance programme. “The opportunities for games, however, have become far less. Four or five years ago I, we, used to play quite a few games. These days not many with WCL going to a three-year cycle.
“I don’t think it is those people who work hard… they do work hard for Associate cricket. But maybe above them there is a sort of malaise towards Associate cricket. To grow further in the game, we always hear it is not commercially viable. We can’t afford to do our own bilateral series. It is very difficult for us. We then hear World Cricket League has gone to a three-year cycle because it is not affordable otherwise. To be honest there is money somewhere. There is a lot of money in cricket. Just not really being spent on expanding the game. Although a bit of it is being spent, the revenue should be spread more far out so that we have that opportunity to play more.”
Borren had a message for those who feel the Associates don’t deserve a healthier share of the revenue because they don’t generate it: “I will tell them we don’t need that much. We are not looking for millions and millions of dollars. Just a very small percentage of this huge amount. Obviously we are not going to probably be the source of much revenue, we understand that, but if the game wants to grow, then surely the revenue needs to be shared more evenly not just amongst three, eight, ten teams but throughout the Associates and Affiliates as well.
“I can remember William Porterfield saying pretty similar stuff after the 2015 world cup. People keep saying ‘fair enough’, ‘fair enough’, but there is no real change. That can be extremely frustrating. Real change would be welcomed in world of cricket. For example I watch Indian TV, going through the channels, highlights of us beating England, so we think, ‘Hang on, everyone likes watching that, everyone likes watching new teams do well, you know give us the opportunity.”
Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo
ESPN Sports Media Ltd.