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Thatscricket - News - Eligibility row overshadows ICC Trophy

Published: Friday, June 29, 2001, 20:00 [IST]
 
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Toronto: The International Cricket Council (ICC) Trophy tournament, which got underway on Thursday, has run headlong into a problem common to many global sports: Just how do you qualify to play for any given country?The competition is a chance for some of cricket's junior nations to join the elite at the 2003 World Cup, the top three from Toronto guaranteed a place at the South Africa showpiece.In all 23 associate members of ICC are competing for those coveted spots and the once in a lifetime chance for some to play alongside the professionals is the dream of many cricket pioneers in far away countries of which the sport generally know little.But with many of these teams having little or no real cricket history, the thorny issue of eligibility has once again come to the fore. Italy withdrew when told it could not select four players, including Australians Joe Scuderi and Peter Di Venuto, brother of the better-known Michael.Both men have Italian ancestry, which would more than qualify them for international football, where the one grandparent rule applies. However, they fell foul of an ICC hardline stance, which aims to preserve the integrity of each nation's team.Back in 1993-94, United Arab Emirates won the competition with a side including 10 foreign born players. This prompted complaints from elsewhere about 'packing' teams with outsiders and ICC responded by saying that each team contain at least seven players who qualified for that country by birth or citizenship.Now that number has been raised to nine and with ICC refusing to compromise, Italy pulled out.Visa problems have also affected the make up of some countries squads although Nepal and United Arab Emirates are both expected to compete after replacing players who had failed to satisfy the Canadian authorities.Those teams that are still in Toronto will be in for a financial windfall if they qualify for the World Cup. After earning $ 13 million from a One-day knockout competition involving the Test nations in Kenya last year, ICC has set aside $ one million to be shared by the three teams who make it to South Africa.First they must come through a series of group matches before a knockout section culminating a tournament final decides the tournament winners.But the pressure will be off both finalists as they will already be assured of their place in South Africa.The 'qualifying final', effectively a third/fourth place play-off, will be a more tense occasion, with the losers having to wait four years for another shot at the World Cup.The teams: First Division: Group A: Scotland, Holland, Canada, United Arab Emirates, Fiji and Singapore.Group B: Ireland, Denmark, Hong Kong, Bermuda, United States and Papua New GuineaSecond Division: Group A: Namibia, West Africa, Gibraltar, Nepal and Germany.Group B: Malaysia, East and Central Africa, Argentina, Israel, France and Uganda.

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