Qualifiers to tour Australia and New Zealand to prepare for ICC Cricket World Cup 2015

Tue, Jul 29, 2014 10:14 AM

With 200 days to go to the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015, the International Cricket Council (ICC) today announced that the four qualifying teams for the tournament will travel to Australia and New Zealand in September and October 2014. The tours are part of the ICC's High Performance Programme (HPP), and will assist the qualifiers' preparations for cricket's pinnacle 50-over tournament.

Afghanistan, Ireland, Scotland and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) will play against state and provincial sides in Australia and New Zealand, as they count down to the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015, which will be held between 14 February and 29 March. During the tour, they will also be able to call on a number of specialist coaches and former players from both countries, to support their training and planning sessions.

The team schedules have been developed in consultation with the individual Member Boards, as well as Cricket Australia, New Zealand Cricket and their respective state and provincial associations, and will provide local fans with an early taste of what to expect next year.

The tours will get underway when the UAE, the fourth and last Associate team to qualify to the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015, arrives in Perth on 7 September.

Shortly after, Afghanistan will arrive in Perth on 14 September, Scotland will arrive in Hobart on 24 September, and Ireland will arrive in Queensland on 23 September.

Reflecting on the importance of these tours, ICC Chief Executive David Richardson said: "Helping cricket's top emerging nations to perform on the global stage is a key part of the ICC's High Performance Programme, and these tours will provide a great opportunity for the four teams to gain valuable knowledge and experience of the conditions they will face during the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015.

"All sides have a strong schedule of matches against high-level opposition, and we are grateful to Cricket Australia, New Zealand Cricket and their state and provincial associations for supporting the programme so fully."

Chief Executive of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 Local Organising Committee, John Harnden, said he was excited to have the teams competing in both Australia and New Zealand.

"With just 200 days to go until the first match in Christchurch, it's pleasing to see the tournament build even further momentum. We're looking forward to welcoming Ireland, Afghanistan, Scotland and United Arab Emirates to Australia and New Zealand in September and October," said Mr Harnden.

"Both New Zealand and Australia have such a diverse community, which is very passionate about its varied heritage and, in many cases, is very passionate about cricket. We'll be working hard in the communities in which the matches are playing to encourage fans to get out and support these sides prior to the tournament."

Ireland, the first team to qualify for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 after winning the Pepsi ICC World Cricket League Championship (WCLC), will be making its third successive appearance at the tournament.

Ireland will play four one-day matches in Australia before travelling to New Zealand on 11 October, where it will play four more one-day games in Mount Maunganui and Christchurch.

"It promises to be a fantastic occasion for Irish cricket and their fans. The squad can't wait to play in a World Cup in Australia and New Zealand. It's going to be a wonderful tournament and I know just how much everyone is looking forward to it," Ireland coach Phil Simmons said.

"This tour is a great opportunity for the squad to acclimatise ahead of the competition, and we're grateful to the ICC and in particular, Richard Done, for his help in making it possible. It'll give us some much needed match practise in Antipodean conditions against a high standard of opposition.

"We aim to be as well prepared as possible in order to claim more headline wins against Full Members, and this tour is an important aspect in that preparation."

Afghanistan will make its maiden appearance at the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 after finishing second behind Ireland in the Pepsi ICC WCLC.

The side will arrive in Perth on 14 September, the venue for its tournament clash against host Australia, before travelling to Mount Maunganui in New Zealand for four further matches.

Afghanistan captain Mohammad Nabi sees the ICC High Performance Programme tours as a great opportunity for his side. "It is a huge honour for Afghanistan to be playing in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015. We will do our best to justify our qualification to the tournament and that is where this pre-tournament tour will prove very useful," said Nabi.

"Not only will we be able to familiarise ourselves with the conditions that we will face during the tournament, but we will also be able to seek guidance from former legends of the game and utilise world class facilities on offer in Australia and New Zealand."

Scotland, which sealed the third qualification spot when it won the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier New Zealand 2014 (CWCQ), will arrive in Hobart on 24 September.

The team's new coach Grant Bradburn is looking forward to the tour for a number of reasons.

"With now only 200 days to go to the World Cup, excitement is building in the Scotland camp. Players are well aware already there will be healthy internal competition for places in the final 15, so every opportunity from here on in is critical for selection and preparation," he said.

"The pre-World Cup tour to Australia and New Zealand is a valuable chance for all the associate teams to keep building playing experiences against quality opposition on conditions that we are likely to be challenged with come February.

"Together with the ICC we have been able to build a substantial preparation programme towards the World Cup. From a playing perspective we are expecting to be challenged with quality quick, swing bowling plus world class spin. These are two of the skill areas where the Scotland squad will be working hard to keep building our skills."

The side has played in two previous ICC Cricket World Cup events (1999 and 2007), and will play two one-day matches in Hobart, before heading to the country of its historic CWCQ victory to play an additional four one-day matches, in Christchurch.

The UAE will make its second appearance at the ICC Cricket World Cup in 2015, having played in the 1996 edition. It qualified for the tournament after finishing runner-up to Scotland at the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier 2014 and its preparation schedule will include two matches in Perth, the venue for the side's clash against ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 and ICC Champions Trophy 2013 champion India on 28 February.

The UAE will play six one-day matches, including one against Papua New Guinea in Darwin on 17 September.

"To play in the ICC Cricket World Cup is the dream of all cricketers; it's the biggest event that any of us can participate in. It has been 18 years since the UAE's only appearance at the World Cup, and we are looking to make our mark in 2015," said UAE coach Aqib Javed.

"The ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier in New Zealand in January was the team's first taste of the local conditions, and this tour provides us with a strong programme of high-level matches and experience across a range of conditions. It provides a really good opportunity to test ourselves - it is crucial preparation for us."

The full schedule of HPP tour matches will be shared in due course.

About the ICC HPP Programme

The ICC High Performance Programme (HPP) was launched in 2001 to assist the leading ICC Associate Members prepare for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2003. The major objective of the HPP is to develop the quality of HPP country on-field and off-field structures in order to close the gap between ICC Associate Member and ICC Full Member playing standards.

From 2014 to 2017, the six HPP countries are Afghanistan, Ireland, Scotland and the UAE, the four teams that qualified for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015, as well as Hong Kong and Papua New Guinea.

To achieve this objective, the ICC High Performance Manager, Richard Done, visits and works with the HPP countries to prioritize their own in-country strategies for their high performance programmes, competition schedules, player development pathways and off-field coaching and administrative structures. He also engages and manages the operations of a team of specialist consultants who provide identified areas of essential support.

For more information on the ICC HPP Programme, please click here.

HPP camps are held for the leading Associate and Affiliate teams in the lead up to most ICC global events, and at other key times to fit in with team schedules.

Prior to the ICC WT20 Sri Lanka 2012, a camp was held in Sri Lanka, while an HPP camp was also held in the UAE in 2011 ahead of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011, in England in 2009, ahead of the ICC World Twenty20 2009, in the UAE in March 2013 before round five of the Pepsi ICC World Cricket League Championship, and in the UAE in March 2014 ahead of the ICC World Twenty20 Bangladesh 2014.

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