T20 World Cup qualifiers start amidst corruption charges

#dailynews60 : Cricket’s lesser lights, including Jersey and Nigeria, are chasing a “dream” as qualifying for next year’s T20 World Cup gets underway on Friday, but the start of the tournament will be overshadowed by three United Arab Emirates players being charged with corruption.

Scotland are the highest-ranked team in the competition, with 14 nations vying for six places in the opening round of next year’s World T20 in Australia, where they would join Bangladesh and Sri Lanka in attempting to reach the ‘Super 12s’.

But the hosts’ preparations for the tournament in Dubai and Abu Dhabi have been thrown into disarray, after captain Mohammed Naveed was one of the trio of UAE players charged by the International Cricket Council on Wednesday.

Batsman Shaiman Anwar and right-arm pace bowler Qadeer Ahmed have also been charged by the ICC, the players facing a total of 12 counts of breaching the governing body’s anti-corruption rules, as well as being axed from their country’s squad for the qualifiers.

“My family is let down, my friends are let down. Everybody is let down. This was my mistake,” the 32-year-old Naveed told The National newspaper.

Naveed added that he had made a mistake in failing to report an approach made to him by a “fixer” who had pretended to be an official representing a franchise in the T10 League, also slated for the UAE in November.

Ireland are the only Test team having to go through qualifying and will be expected to book a sixth straight appearance in the tournament.

“We are here to compete at the world stage,” said Irish skipper Gary Wilson.

“We have a great record in the Middle East and the boys are looking forward to a great tournament and ensure we finish right at the top again.”

The winners of each group of seven will qualify automatically, with the four remaining spots to be decided in playoffs.

Scotland, 11th in the world T20 rankings, claimed their first-ever win at a global ICC tournament in the 2016 edition by beating Hong Kong, but will be looking to put the pain of agonisingly missing out on the 50-over World Cup earlier this year behind them.

They had two chances to secure a place during last year’s qualifying in Zimbabwe, but lost to Ireland before rain cut short their tense run chase against two-time world champions the West Indies.

“It is vitally important not only for us as Scotland but for every team here,” said Scotland captain Kyle Coetzer.