articles by Bertus de Jong

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Explainer: With 2023 Cricket World Cup qualifying process underway, here's a breakdown of ICC's new-look league structure

The new World Cup qualifying format constitutes three long-term divisions running over 25-30 months, feeding into three decisive tournaments at the end of the cycle which determine which teams will feature at the event.

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Circling the wagons or throwing in the towel? ICC’s draconian suspension of Zimbabwe Cricket raises difficult questions

The suspension of Zimbabwe at last week’s ICC Annual Meeting on grounds of government interference may be seen as long overdue by many, others will argue that the ICC has hamstrung cricket in the country just as it was on the cusp of a much-needed clean-up. But for the players, who are always the first to suffer, it is above all ill-timed.

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ICC Cricket World Cup 2019, Afghanistan review: Selection blunders, off-field turmoil mark disappointing campaign for Afghans

A semi-final spot was never a realistic prospect, but Afghanistan were not here to make up the numbers, a new force rather than a novelty act.

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ICC Cricket World Cup 2019: The trials of Gulbadin Naib; how Afghanistan's captain has been undone by his own best qualities

Gulbadin Naib has batted at every position for Afghanistan from one to nine, opened the bowling and bowled at the death, in the middle overs, or not at all. The only fitting description of his job to date has been 'whatever needs doing'.

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India vs Afghanistan, ICC Cricket World Cup 2019: Afghans' best performance results in elimination, but team can take heart from effort

For Afghanistan, it was the sort of performance that, had it come in their first match, it would have sent ripples of alarm through their remaining opponents. It was finally the Afghanistan that the tournament had been expecting rather than the shambles that turned up.

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ICC Cricket World Cup 2019: Three games into their campaign, Afghanistan are in turmoil on and off the field

The politics of the Afghanistan board and dressing room can be difficult to follow even for insiders, but a flurry of personnel changes and public bickering suggest their on-field losing streak is hardly their only problem.

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Afghanistan vs Sri Lanka, ICC Cricket World Cup 2019: Old flaws resurface as Gulbadin Naib's men revert to being plucky underdogs

For all the entertainment value, the chase, and indeed the game, was what Afghanistan’s fans would have feared. The wayward pace section with no appealing replacement, the rickety third leg of the spin tripod, the fragility of the batting, were enough to offset Nabi’s personal brilliance with the ball and Najibullah’s defiance with the bat.

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Afghanistan vs Australia, ICC Cricket World Cup 2019: Gulbadin Naib and Co's expected opening defeat produces few surprises

Afghanistan's loss against Australia was expected but there were few surprises in the manner of the defeat, if not the result itself, especially in the second innings.

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ICC Cricket World Cup 2019, Afghanistan preview: Gulbadin Naib and Co aim for semi-final spot as old guard look to bow out on high

The ingredients are there for Afghanistan for a few upsets. Naib’s side will fancy their chances against Sri-Lanka, Bangladesh and in their final match against the West Indies, all of whom they have beaten before. In their other six matches, they will start as underdogs, though that label has rarely fazed them in the past.

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Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Afghanistan bowler, World Cup 2019 Player Full Profile: Blue Tigers can trust Mujeeb with new ball on UK tracks

Still just 18 years old, Mujeeb made his ODI debut only 17 months ago (one of only two players in the squad to debut within the last three years) and is already 5th in Afghanistan’s all-time ODI wicket-taking tables with 51 scalps.

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Aftab Alam, Afghanistan bowler, World Cup 2019 Player Full Profile: Aftab Alam's medium pace asset for Blue Tigers on UK tracks

Dogged and dependable even when conditions are against him, Alam’s bustling medium pace may yet prove an asset in England.

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Dawlat Zadran, Afghanistan bowler, World Cup 2019 Player Full Profile: Pacer crucial for Afghans with new and old ball at mega event

As first-choice opening seamer and lower-order wildcard, Zadran will play a key role with the ball at the start of the innings and the bat at the close.

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Mohammad Nabi, Afghanistan all-rounder, World Cup 2019 Player Full Profile: Nabi's experience, proven record sets him apart at ten-nation event

Nabi, though still a crucial component of both the Afghan batting and bowling units, may well be heading into his second and last World Cup. But for him, it’s likely Afghanistan would still be waiting to play in their first.

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Samiullah Shinwari, Afghanistan all-rounder, World Cup 2019 Player Full Profile: Experienced campaigner will be looking to silence critics on big stage

Shinwari is a stubborn and unconventional lower-middle-order bat, whose experience and all-round abilities add depth to the Afghan squad.

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Hashmatullah Shahidi, Afghanistan batsman, World Cup 2019 Player Full Profile: Calm Shahidi can play the stabilising role in middle order

Together with Rahmat Shah, Hashmatullah Shahidi is one of the few Afghan batsmen who might reasonably claim to be a stabilising influence on the batting.

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Noor Ali Zadran, Afghanistan batsman, World Cup 2019 Player Full Profile: Experienced Noor Ali has important role to play in ten-nation event

Noor Ali is a seasoned campaigner and experienced opening batsman, whose role behind the scenes may be as important as on the field.

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Asghar Afghan, Afghanistan batsman, World Cup 2019 Player Full Profile: Afghan's experience to come handy for new captain Naib

Afghan is an experienced and capable presence in the middle order, and will be an important source of support and insight in the field for captain Naib.

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Rahmat Shah, Afghanistan batsman, World Cup 2019 Player Full Profile: Rahmat's role will be to steady innings in middle overs

Shah is an experienced and versatile middle-order bat, equally capable of steadying the innings or pressing the advantage.