The last ACC Twenty20 in 2013 resulted in Hong Kong, China and Nepal joining Afghanistan and UAE in the World Twenty20 Qualifier. After winning through that qualifier, and reaching the 2014 ICC World Twenty20 all four countries have maintained their position – and ability – to challenge for places in the 2016 ICC World Twenty20 in India. The winner of this year’s ACC Twenty20 Cup goes up, just like the other four ACC nations, to be just a few more victories away from a global event. "As a player it's what you dream of whenever you play, whenever you watch, whenever you see, hear or meet an international cricketer," says Malaysia’s Shafiq Sharif.

Hong Kong, Nepal and UAE performed well at ICC World Twenty20 2014

He, like the rest of his team-mates – like the other cricketers from Kuwait, Maldives, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Singapore – have five matches in Sharjah over the coming week to decide who gets to the Twenty20 Qualifier in Ireland and Scotland in July, prior to reaching ‘the show’ in India. Kuwait and Saudi Arabia have flair aplenty and Twenty20 cricket suits them best of all the formats, Maldives and Oman have talent, discipline and desire and can beat anybody else, Singapore have depth, class and ability and have come close many times at 50-over level to push for a place in the World Cricket League before just falling back. This may well be Singapore’s year. Everyone else has 200 overs of cricket to play too. 200 overs of cricket, 2000 hours of coaching, 20,000 hours of practise and play: for all the cricketers in Sharjah this coming week it’s going to be how well they focus their skill and sweat.

Afghanistan at the 2014 World Twenty20

Six Associate nations will join the top ten in ICC World Twenty20 2016, it could just as easily be one of these ACC countries as anyone else. “If my coach told me when I first picked up a bat that I’ll play in a World Cup one day if I play and practise properly for sure I would have,” says Shafiq. By now, he has for sure.

ACC Twenty20 Cup 2015 Tournament PageCricinfo will be carrying live scores and commentary on all the matches

Filed January 23rd, 2015