Welcome to the launch of the WCC Academy competition for season two. Last year saw a hugely successful tournament take place in the United States over an eight week period, this season see's the competition moved to Africa with ten major cities given the chance to host teams. Last years competition saw the rise of several current key players in World Club Cricket teams, Yorkshire spinner Adil Rashid excelled for Kansas, Karachi quick V Chaminda was a vital part of Utah's championship winning side while North Zone India batsman Vinod Kohli was the tournaments highest run getter.
This year see's a new an exciting breed of players, fifteen current world Club Cricket players have been nominated to take part, Kandurata all rounder Adnan Raza and Tasmania's Luke Butterworth appear to be the ones most likely to star this year. A good mix of bowlers, batsmen and wicketkeepers will take part from WCC teams meaning the competition among these players is likely to be very strong.
This years competition will see players take part in 16 games in each form of cricket, four more than were played in the US last season. With players gaining valuable experience not only on the field, but also off the field as they will travel throughout Africa for the tournament. Now we know the in's and out's lets take a quick look at the teams taking part.
WCC Players: S Ashraf (Karachi)
Tunis have arguably one of the stronger bowling line ups in this competition, promising quick N Dredge looks lively and a strong showing from him in this competition will ensure his WCC future. The batting will be lead by Ashraf, he may be inexperienced but he's clearly the best bat in this team and his Karachi manager will be looking for big scores from him. Former New South Wales all rounder Grant Lambert could be another star.
WCC Players: J Neill (South Zone India) B Rankin (Warwickshire)
A solid line up that could be lacking stars outside of their WCC players. Ashwell Prince looks like their strongest batsman while evergreen all rounder Richard Stratton will press his claims to be picked up for a WCC club in season three. Among the players looking for a recall to the big leagues is former Queensland spinner Chris Simpson. Dakar's most talented youngster appears to be wicketkeeper K Jayawardene. Teams visiting Dakar can expected to be greeted by a bit of a dustbowl as their spinners are among the best in competition.
WCC Players: N Jewell (Victoria) & L Butterworth (Tasmania)
Tripoli will be tough to beat, their strength is in the batting with Nick Jewell being backed up by some talented youngsters in M Weerakoon and J Godwin. Some might say their bowling lacks some punch but they will wear teams down with tight bowling and good fielding, with plenty of bowling options and some good spinners they will keep teams guessing as to their line up until game day. M Exley looks to be their best prospect, unlucky not to be picked up in the draft this year he will make the most of his second season at the academy.
WCC Players: C Gonzalez (Queensland)
On paper it looks like Touba could struggle a little, they have a few solid batsmen and a couple of decent bowlers but overall they may not be the best side out there. In C Watson and E Stollmeyer they have a couple of opening batsmen that will perform if conditions are right. There appears to be little bowling outside of Gonzalez and he will have to bowl a lot. Q Moore has something to prove after being dumped by New South Wales but he will need to show more at the academy than he did for the Blues last year. Opposition sides can expect a lot of green tops visiting Touba this season with the likelyhood for a four pronged pace attack.
WCC Players: O Cope (Western Australia)
The Favourites in both forms of the game for mine, with quality batting and very solid bowling it will take a lot for teams to get over them. Sri Lankan M Jayanthe is a youngster with plenty of potential and as one of the best batsman in this competition a lot is expected of him. Former Cobras keeper Mark Boucher will be looking for a quick return to WCC and he needs runs this year ot his chances may be gone forever. West Australian spinner O Cope will lead the bowling with back up from quick men Jayasuria and Norman. A well balanced team means they should be able to compete in all conditions.
WCC Players: F du Plessis (South Zone India)
Port Louis will fancy their chances with this line up. They scored one of the best WCC players available in du Plessis as well as securing the services of two young batsmen in Rushambwa and Chalker. Former WA batsman Shaun Marsh is also in this line up and will have a big job to do, he should gain himself a return to WCC in season three with some big performances. The bowling doesn't look as good as the batting but Sammels and Dorey will do a decent job.
WCC Players: A Raza (Kandurata)
Raza should be the star of this years academy series, somewhat of an established player at his club he should return with big numbers to his name. He will ned to do a lot of work himself for Cairo to be successful as the batting is solid without being outstanding, the bowling looks ok but could be expensive. Their best players outside of Raza should be wicketkeeper N Chaudhari and batsman W Adhikari. With plenty of quicks to choose from they should look to prepare a hard and fast wicket.
WCC Players: M Wade (Cobras) & B Casson (NSW)
Another of the really strong teams in this competition, they picked up a couple of really good WCC players as well as some of the academy's best new talent. Casson himelf will do a big job batting at 6 and bowling a lot of overs however the talents of young paceman F Lumb has a lot of people talking. He looks the goods and must deliver to impress the managers of WCC teams. Experienced batsman F Funston will also be in this team and he will need to get over the shock of not being picked up in the draft a few months ago.
WCC Players: C Hartley (Auckland) & C Bailey (SA)
Could surprise a lot of people and snatch the title on the back of some strong batting, probably the strongest young keeper in W Locke will play for this team however he will have to share the gloves with Auckland's Chris Hartley. They have a lot of bowling options and N Blakewell's all round talents could capture the attention of some important people this season. Fast bowler V Pascoe will also be looking to bowl himself into a WCC contract.
WCC Players: J Patel (Yorkshire) & U Indrasiri (Titans)
The tenth and final team to be competing in this years competition. They have a talented line up with some big name stars, J Patel at 17 was a mainstay in the Yorkshire line up last year but now finds himself back at the WCC academy. Looks to be one of the best batsman in the competition and Garoua will be wanting plenty of runs from him. B Watts looks the goods too, the young opener has come to the academy with a huge reputation and needs runs or could find himself on the WCC scraphead. J Remmington will lead the bowling line up well with B Dutton sharing the spinning duties with U Indrasiri.