Minnows Jersey set for World Twenty20 qualifying challenge

By Brent PilnickBBC Sport
Jersey cricket team
Jersey won the European Division One Twenty20 title on home soil last month

Jersey, with its population of 99,000, will begin a bid to qualify for the 2016 ICC World Twenty20 in India, but they will need to beat countries up to 3,000 times bigger to do it.

Jersey have picked their side for the global qualifying tournament and start against Hong Kong on 11 July.

They became an international cricketing nation in 2005 and this will be the highest level they have played at.

Jersey made it through by winning the European Division One Twenty20 event.

"It's a big achievement already for the players to win European Division One and qualify," coach Neil MacRae told BBC Sport.

"Our next aim is to continue to improve from the performances we had in European Division One."

Jersey - the biggest minnows in sport?
Ireland 4,627,000
Hong Kong7,241,700
Papua New Guinea7,321,000
USA 320,051,000
Full World T20 Qualifier fixtures

Jersey will be seen as the outsiders of the group - they have just four teams in their main cricket league, a population of under 100,000 and play in Division Four of the World Cricket League alongside the likes of Malaysia, Bermuda and Italy.

They face joint hosts Ireland, who beat the West Indies at the 50-over World Cup earlier this year and narrowly missed out on the latter stages of the tournament.

In the group stages, from 9-19 July, Jersey are also up against Nepal, Hong Kong, Papua New Guinea, Namibia and the USA in Group A of the event, all with vastly bigger populations than the 45-square mile island off the coast of France.

The winners of the group will qualify automatically,external-link along with the winners of the other qualifying group.

The sides finishing second and third in Group A will play their counterparts in Group B with the winners securing places in India and the losers playing the two fourth-placed sides to complete the 16-team line-up for the finals, which take place from 11 March to 3 April.

"We're a young side which is improving rapidly and we aim to play our top level of cricket in each game and qualify for the second week of the tournament," MacRae added.

"We think we've got a group of excellent young cricketers who've gained experience of playing this format.

"With the amount of T20 cricket we've played this season we have great momentum to take into this tournament."

Jersey squad: Peter Gough (capt), Nat Watkins, Edward Farley, Ben Stevens, Anthony Hawkins-Kay, Tom Minty, Charles Perchard, Jonty Jenner, Corey Bisson, Rhys Palmer, Ben Kynman, Callum Rabet, Paul Connolly, Dominic Blampied and Corne Bodenstein.

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