T20 World Cup Qualifier: Frustrated Jersey finish fourth

T20 World Cup Qualifier: Frustrated Jersey finish fourth
Jersey's 25-run loss to Italy was one of three defeats for the Islanders in Scotland - photo credit ICC

As Jersey's cricketers departed Scotland, they will likely have been pondering what might have been, what could have been, what scenes we would have seen, had they delivered their very, very best at the T20 World Cup Qualifier.

Three wins and three losses in Edinburgh saw Jersey finish in fourth spot. A top two place, which would have secured a remarkable qualification for next summer's World Cup, was left hanging tantalising just a couple of wins out of reach.

Neil MacRae's side had gone into the event as the third-highest ranked team in the tournament, behind the hosts and Ireland, so always knew an upset or two in their favour would be required to progress. Had they converted a dominant position against Scotland and not slipped to a 25-run loss to the Italians it would have been a very different story. But "what ifs" don't count in sport. What might have been.

Ultimately, it was Scotland who topped the group on home turf, celebrating six wins from six, with Ireland claiming second spot and their place on the global stage in 2024.

"Overall, it's a feeling of frustration," MacRae told thegantry.je. "We played some good cricket during the tournament and had opportunities in the tight games versus Scotland and Italy to win those matches.

"After the disappointment of the Scotland, Italy and Ireland matches, for the players to bounce back with comprehensive wins against Germany and Denmark shows their character and pride in representing Jersey.

Ireland, on their way to qualification, beat Jersey by nine wickets - photo credit ICC

"We have some clear areas to work on with the bat in T20 cricket and we will continue to develop this young side to come back stronger at the next tournament."

Jersey had started the week in style, with Nick Greenwood's half century helping them to an eight-wicket win over MacRae's former team Austria, chasing down the 105 target with ease inside 10 overs. If the players and supporters weren't already dreaming of a World Cup berth, they were now.

Hopes were further heightened on matchday two, when Scotland were struggling on 84-5 with 7.3 overs of their innings to go. An unbeaten stand of 61 between Chris Greaves and Mark Watt, though, took them to 149-6.

The momentum had swung, and Jersey openers Charlie Brennan, Harrison Carlyon and wicketkeeper Asa Tribe were all back in the pavilion after just 22 balls of the chase.

Greenwood, the team's standout player of the tournament, and Jonty Jenner both scored at more than a run-a-ball for their respective knocks of 36 and 29, but even the late hitting of Ben Ward (47*) including 20 runs off the last over wasn't enough to topple the hosts. A 14-run loss, so close to the biggest scalp in their history. Just 15 more runs - three big hits - what might have been.

It was the defeat to the Italians, though, that really took the wind out of Jersey's sails. Openers Justin Mosca and Ben Manenti put on 72 for the first wicket, with Manenti eventually falling to Ward in the ninth over. Derbyshire's Wayne Madsen made 52 from 30 balls and, coupled with Marcus Campopiano's quickfire 44, helped the Italians to 183-8.  

In reply, openers Carylon and Julius Sumerauer both fell in the first four overs. Greenwood top-scored with 32, as Jenner, Ward and Asa Tribe all got starts but couldn't push on to major contributions. Jersey slipped to 158 all out.

Jersey results (click to expand)

Thursday 20 July: Austria (Jersey won by 8 wickets), Friday 21 July: Scotland (Jersey lost by 14 runs), Sunday 23 July: Italy (Jersey lost by 25 runs), Monday 24 July: Ireland (Jersey lost by 9 wickets), Tuesday 25 July: Germany (Jersey won by 51 runs), Friday 28 July: Denmark (Jersey won by 28 runs).

A nine-wicket humbling at the hands of Ireland was to follow - a third loss on the bounce - and by the time Jersey lined up against the Germans the following day qualification hopes were over.

To their credit, the islanders finished strong, reminding anyone who might have forgotten just why they had gone into the tournament 21st in the T20 world rankings and are amongst the best nations on the planet not to grace the World Cup next year.

Promoted to open the batting against the Germans, Greenwood continued his excellent week, hitting 11 boundaries on his way to 86*, carrying his bat in a total of 190-5. Young speedster Sumerauer's 4-22 helped ensure Germany fell well short, ending on 139-8.

Next, to end on a high against the Danes. Greenwood and youngster Brennan joint top scored with 43 each in Jersey's 159. Progress was stunted somewhat by Nicolaj Laegsgaard's hat-trick as Sumerauer, skipper Chuggy Perchard and Elliot Miles all fell to consecutive balls of the penultimate over.

In reply, Laegsgaard and Hamid Shah both went early on to leave Denmark on 12-2 from 2.1 overs. Captain Taranjit Bharaj (45) and Saif Ahmad (46) more than steadied the ship, but the middle and lower order struggled, and Jersey closed out a 28-run victory to bookend the tournament with another two points.

MacRae described the week as "frustrating". That Jersey have come so far as to be frustrated at not qualifying for the World Cup speaks volumes. It would have been some achievement, but it wasn't an impossible dream this time around. What might have been.

Final standings

  1. Q. Scotland P6 W6 L0 = 12pts
  2. Q. Ireland P6 W4 L1 = 9pts
  3. Italy P6 W3 L2 = 7pts
  4. Jersey P6 W3 L3 = 6pts
  5. Germany P6 W2 L3 = 5pts
  6. Denmark P6 W1 L5 = 2pts
  7. Austria P6 W0 L5 = 1pt