JERSEY head coach Neil MacRae says his players have acknowledged the ‘huge opportunity’ that faces them in Namibia next week, as they bid to earn One Day International status for the first time.
The Islanders are set to appear in the 2023 Cricket World Cup Qualifier Play-off from 26 March–5 April and could make history if they pick up positive results against the likes of Canada, USA and Papua New Guinea.
A top-four finish in the six-team tournament would likely bring a ‘significant’ increase in central funding from the International Cricket Council – rumoured to be worth over $1million. Promotion to ‘League 2’, featuring nations ranked inside the world’s top 20, would also be secured for the next World Cup cycle.
A place in League 2 would guarantee over 30 ODI matches between 2024–27, meaning Jersey’s players would, in all likelihood, need to turn semi-professional.
MacRae, who named his 14-man squad for Namibia yesterday, said claiming a top-two finish in the play-off (and a place at the final qualifier for the 2023 World Cup in India) is the immediate priority but he admits there is one eye on the bigger picture.
The Caesareans reached the play-off by winning Challenge League B last year, off the back of nine 50-over victories in their final ten games.
‘It is a huge opportunity and not something we anticipated a year ago,’ said MacRae.
‘There would be significant funding for all of our programmes, including the women’s, boys and girls. It’s big … we know that.
‘We knew at the start of last summer that we needed to win at least nine out of ten games in the Challenge League, which we did, but we couldn’t have expected a young side to do that.’
Nepal face UAE in the final 2019–23 League 2 fixture today, needing a win to leapfrog Namibia and condemn the Africans to the play-off. If UAE win or the game ends without a winner, it will be Nepal who are forced to fight again for a spot in the final qualifier.
The bottom two sides in League 2 – Papua New Guinea and either UAE or USA – could have their ODI status taken from them by Jersey and/or Canada.
‘The average age of the squad  is young. However it is an experienced squad,’ MacRae added. ‘The players have played a lot of tournament cricket and there were some great performances last summer, which have given us this opportunity. We’re going with a lot of confidence, particularly after the great wins against Uganda and Hong Kong to get us that Challenge League B title last August.’