Despite the fact that cricket is a religion in the sub-continent and the game has been presented if not in a refined version but in its most glamorous, exuberant and rollicking avatar by nations like Australia, England, South Africa and New Zealand, it is not as popular as one would expect it to be.
The competition is limited and with a select few countries vying for ultimate glory over countless years of time, it has discouraged a lot of other nations from pursuing the sport. Cricket had its roots of genesis in the nostalgic Test format of the game, which became more popular when One Day cricket evolved as a much-more jubilant and stimulating version of the dwindling matriarch.
As time passed by and people started swivelling more towards shorter versions of the game, what was once deemed as ludicrous has now become mainstream in international cricket. T20 cricket is the new heartthrob of the war between the willow and the leather and constitutes a major part of any series that are being played in the modern days.
Despite the fact that we are all aware of the various matches played by the renowned nations, modest teams are still to find their footing and a few of them are even unheard of. It is not because the sport is an expensive one to pursue, but because of the strident appearance that it has put forth in the ages.
We will introduce you to five nations that apparently play T20I cricket and are even ranked in ICC rankings, and yet most of you are unaware of them.
Languishing in the 36th spot, Nigeria has repeatedly failed to break into top-tier cricket despite the long antiquity of love for the game. The game was introduced to them in the late 19th century by the Brits. Following the footpaths of emancipation from the Britons, Nigeria started competing in annual matches against Sierra Leone and the Gambia.
Unfortunately, cricket started riding on a wave of incessant decline when the team lost heavily to Tanzania and MCC between 1974 and 1976. There were also internal problems that led to an implosion tearing through the ranks of a rising Nigerian force. Their opening ICC tournament came in 2002 when they participated in the Africa Cup in Zambia. Their opening T20I was against a formidable Kenya, who is a mere shadow of its scintillating self. Unfortunately, Nigeria couldn’t impress against an emaciated Kenya and lost the tie in a humiliating fashion. They have played 9 T20I’s so far and have won only 2 of them. Chimezie Onwuzulike leads the chart for highest run-scorers with 119 runs at an average of 15.25. Ademola Onikoyi
Ailing in the 35th position of the T20I rankings, Botswana is still to open its T20I account. They have played 7 matches to date and have lost all of them. Cricket managed to stem in the nation from the likes of South African and Indian returnees. They were elected as the affiliate member of the ICC in 2001. In March 2004, they won the African Affiliates qualifying tournament for the 2005 ICC Trophy. They have had contrasting fortunes in the World Cricket League that have seen them climbing out of the depths of despair and yet failing to make it big despite stiff resistance against better teams than them.
After bagging the T20 status they played their opening game against Uganda where they had to take an ignominious shellacking as they were bundled out for 90 chasing 143 as a target. Their highest team total has come against Namibia that reads 116, underlining the deficiency of some serious batting prowess. The team is led by Tsepho Phaswana and has been battling rigorously to break free from the manacles of mediocrity. Karabo Motlhanka has so far been the highest scorer for them with 115 runs, which also features their best individual score of 59. Dhruv Maisuria has been a rock-solid bowler for Botswana as he has claimed 11 wickets at an average of 11.00.
3. United States
The antiquity of cricket in the States dates back to the 18th century where the contest of the willow and leather was more popularly known as Baseball. Despite exhibiting initial sparks of brilliance, the game faded away to oblivion towards the latter half of the century. The game once again started seeing the light of the day with Asian and West Indian immigrants imbuing life into the lost pleasure of cricket. After relentless friction with survival, the country managed to bag its residence in the ICC and was finally established as a T20I member in 2018.
In the middle of the chaos that wrecked the sport throughout the country, it was the Philadelphian cricket team that propelled the nation’s advance in cricket for a brief period, only to rush headstrong into a decline in 1913. The team is currently led by Saurabh Netravalkar while Steven Taylor has displayed ample grit to be the vice-captain of the sport. The outfit has played 8 T20I’s, winning two of them while losing five. It is their vice-captain, Steven Taylor, who has managed to e their highest scorer in the shortest format of the sport with 265 runs at a decent average of 37.85. Timil Patel has managed to bag 11 wickets at an average of 13.27.
Ranked in the 33rd position of ICC T20I rankings, Germany does have a cricket team and has also shown intermittent flashes of brilliance. They became an affiliate member of the ICC in 1991 while their debut in cricket came in 1990 at the European Cricketer cup in Guernsey. In 1998, Germany competed in the European championship for the first time and ailed in the seventh spot. The following year saw them become an associate member of the ICC. To highlight a blaring fact, in the Widen Cricketer’s Almanac, their 1997 final of the European Cup against France is listed as one of the 100 best matches of the 20th
The team is currently led by Venkatraman Ganesan and comprises notable monikers like that of Harmanjot Singh and Vijayshankar Chikkannaiah. The team has so far played 12 T20I’s out of which they have secured 8 victories. Chikkannaiah has been the nation’s leading run-scorer with 199 runs at an average of 24.87. Ahmed Wardak has spearheaded the bowling unit with 14 wickets with an astonishing bowling average of 14.00.
They have a rich vein of history when it comes to cricket, as they forged a sacred alliance with Kenya and Tanzania to constitute the East African outfit to play a match against the Non-European South African team. East Africa was granted the affiliate member status by ICC in 1966. They continued this alliance for a long time before Uganda walked out to form a separate entity of their own and finally achieved recognition from ICC in 1998. They posted a decent display after their reclusion from the East African team and had brushes with a fair bit of excellence that saw them bagging the 32nd and the 33rd ranking in T20I cricket in a short span of time.
Currently, stationed in the 32nd spot of the points table, Uganda their opening T20I match against an undercooked Botswana and won comprehensively. They have so far played 10 T20I’s out of which they have secured 3 victories and lost 7. They are being captained by Brian Masaba who in turn is deputized by Roger Musaka. Their leading run-scorer is Riazat Ali Shah who has managed to pile up 196 runs at a staggering average of 49.00 while their leading man with the cherry in his hand has been Charles Waiswa with 11 scalps to his name.