Six international teams will be hoping to give the game an impetus in their countries by making a mark in the ICC World Cricket League Division 4 which gets underway at the Woodley Park in Los Angeles, as the United States of America plays host to such an event for the first time.
The top two sides from among the competing teams – Bermuda, Denmark, Italy, Jersey, Oman and the USA - will advance to the ICC WCL Division 3 while the bottom two will drop to Division 5 in the system of continuous promotion and relegation between divisions. The third and fourth teams will remain in Division 4.
The Division 2 in this cycle allows teams a chance to qualify for the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier 2018. The top two teams from Division 2 will join the top four sides from the ICC World Cricket League Championship and the bottom-four sides from the MRF Tyres ICC ODI Team Rankings in the 2018 Qualifier.
USA captain Steven Taylor said it was important for cricket in his country that the team does well after having dropped a division along with Bermuda.
“The WCL 4 is very important, not only for me but for USA cricket. As a team we are striving to win this event and begin the process of moving USA cricket forward.
“The track looks good for batting and the outfield also looks great. I think our main challenge will be getting off to a good start. Once we get a good start I think we will start clicking as a unit for the remainder of the event,” he said.
Taylor said it would be important for the three Caribbean Premier League players in the team – all-rounder Timroy Allen, pace bowler Ali Khan and Taylor himself - to not only perform well but also guide the younger players in the side.
Bermuda captain Oliver Pitcher (Junior) too stressed on the importance of the tournament.
“This tournament has significant meaning not just for myself and the team but for cricket in Bermuda as a whole. Qualifying and being promoted puts us one step closer to more funding for the development of the sport at the senior and junior levels. It also puts us one step closer to reaching our main goal of repeating what we achieved in 2005, qualifying for the biggest stage in our sport, the ICC Cricket World Cup (2007),” said Pitcher.
“The only concern I have in the back of my mind is the conditions of the grounds that we will be playing on. There have not been any international matches played at the ground in the past so we have no idea what to expect,” said Pitcher, who picked young all-rounders Delray Rawlins and Kamau Leverock among those to watch out for from his team.
Denmark, which stayed in this division along with Italy, is hoping to adjust quickly to the conditions.
“The USA will be a new experience, which I know all our boys are looking forward to. The last couple of tournaments have been based in Asia, where we have done well, but - in my opinion - have had a hard time adjusting to the conditions. Hopefully, USA will not be as hard for us to adjust to,” said captain Michael Pedersen, who is expecting the likes of wicketkeeper-batsman Freddie Klokker and former England pace bowler Amjad Khan to put their experience to good use during the tournament.
Italy captain Damian Crowley is hoping some upcoming youngsters will help the team get promoted to Division 3.
“We keep looking to improve as a team and hopefully gain promotion to Division 3. It will be exciting to see how the new players stand up and look to perform in such a tournament. We have a few new recruits who will be making their debuts for Italy.
“GPS Meade is a young all-rounder who will play a big role with both bat, ball and is a brilliant fielder. Manpreet Singh, shows great promise behind the stumps with the gloves and with bat in hand so I look forward to seeing him contributing this tour,” he said.
The Jersey team, which has been promoted from the WCL Division 5 along with Oman, is confident the team’s balance will hold it in good stead.
“We have a nicely balanced attack with a combination of seamers and spin options and an established batting line-up. We’re looking forward to playing and adapting to different conditions. We have yet to visit the grounds, but we really appreciate the effort that has gone in to preparing them and can't wait to play here,” said captain Peter Gough, who picked upcoming players Harrison Carlyon and Elliot Miles as the ones to look out for.
Oman captain Ajay Lalcheta says the experience of having played the teams before will help in the tournament.
“This will obviously be much higher than Division 5 but we are training very hard, have prepared well and will give a tough time to all the opposition. We’ve played them a few years back in Division 3 and 4. We know the level and approach of these teams.
“We were lacking a little in batting in WCL 5 so our board sent some top batsmen to MCC for training which will definitely make an impact. Bowling is our strength and we have to maintain our standards,” he said.
29 October: USA v Bermuda (Severn); Denmark v Italy (Wright), Jersey v Oman (Wong).
30 October: Bermuda v Oman (Severn), Denmark v Jersey (Wright), USA v Italy (Wong).
1 November: Italy v Jersey (Severn), USA v Oman (Wright), Bermuda v Denmark (Wong).
2 November: USA v Denmark (Severn); Bermuda v Jersey (Wright); Italy v Oman (Wong).
4 November: Denmark v Oman (Severn); Bermuda v Italy (Wright); USA v Jersey (Wong).
5 November: Final (Severn), 3rd v 4th playoff (Wright); 5th v 6th playoff (Wong).