Denmark captain hopes his team can gain popularity back home with its performances in the World T20 qualifiers
Hoping for an improved show this time around, Michael Pedersen, the Denmark captain, believes his team has put the hard yards in and is ready to challenge the top teams in the qualifying group.
“We obviously played in the European T20 division one tournament this summer, which was the qualifying tournament for us," he said, "That served as an ideal preparation for what is to come in Dubai,” he said. We knew it was going to be a tough competition, so we always had our sights set on the final and the qualification spot."
Pedersen felt the conditions in the United Arab Emirates, where they have spent a lot of time in recent times, will help them acclimatise quickly. “I guess we used what we learned in Dubai last time and implemented that in our game and played our cricket hard and were lucky enough to qualify,” he said. “Besides that, we’ve had a couple of regional games and got a lot of training since the season finished in September. We have been out of match action for about a month now, but we’ve followed up with some really good sessions in Eastern and Western Denmark.”
Pedersen was also excited by the prospect of having a number of fresh faces in the squad. Looking at the evolution of Danish cricket since last World Twenty20 Qualifier, Pedersen said, “I honestly think that we have put something on in terms of our batting. Last time around, we struggled to put on the big scores. We also had a very young side. And though most of the squad remains the same for this year, the extra year of experience has given the boys a lot.
“Most of them, especially players like Kamran Mahmood, have had a brilliant year in the Danish competition. They’ve done really well in the T20s as well, as we saw in the European competition, over the summer. The boys have put a lot on to their game. We’ve picked a good blend of experienced players who are in good form. So, I’m looking forward to see how we progress.”
The sailing isn’t expected to be smooth, though. Denmark is bound to find several obstacles in the form of teams like Bermuda, Scotland, Nepal, Afghanistan, Netherlands, Kenya and Papua New Guinea.
“I guess we still have a young side, so it’s a lot about learning and improving our game. We’re talking about some really good teams, a lot of whom have played in the World Cup,” said Pedersen. “So they’re obviously experienced and very talented. So, yes, it can be daunting, but at the same time, it's an invaluable experience for us to play against sides like that.
“These are players we’ve got used to watching on TV, and when you come up against sides like that, you want to play to the best of your ability. So, that’s been our approach for the most of it. We want to go out there and show people that we can actually play. As they say, every dog has its day and who knows, we might have 14 or 15 of them while we’re in Dubai.”
Pedersen added that while football was extremely popular back home, his team would do everything it can to help cricket gain popularity.
“First of all, the publicity that would be created if we qualified for the World Cup would be unbelievable,” he said. “Football has been the big sport in Denmark. But the national football team just missed out on their World Cup qualification. People always want to hear about their country doing well in sports. So, we might just be the ones to fill out that gap left by the football team. Having said that, though, we obviously have to be careful about how we approach the tournament.
“The first thing for us is to take it one game at a time and see if we can go through to the top four. If we can do that and hopefully build some sort of momentum, anything can happen. It’s a short game, and if you can get a couple of guys firing, I don’t see why we shouldn’t go all the way. There were a couple of upsets last time and we might be one of the teams to pull off an upset this year.”
Denmark begins its campaign against Nepal on November 15 at the ICC Global Cricket Academy Ground No. 2 in Dubai.
Denmark: Michael Pedersen (captain), Aftab Ahmed, Christo Botma, Basit Javed, Carsten Pedersen, Yasir Iqbal, Frederik Klokker, Pawan Kumar, Kamran Mahmood, Rizwan Mahmood, Jakob Rubin, Kasper Rubin, Bashir Shah, Hamid Shah