USA are heading back to the World Cup Qualifier for the first time since it was known as the 2005 ICC Trophy in Ireland after securing a 25-run win over Jersey
in their final round-robin match at the CWC Qualifier Play-off in Namibia.
Defending a total of 231, USA fast bowler Ali Khan
propelled his side to the ten-team qualifier in Zimbabwe later this summer with a blistering new-ball spell in which he claimed 5 for 7 in his first three overs – including three wickets in four balls in the sixth over – before coming back at the death to wipe out the tail, eventually finishing with 7 for 32 in 9.4 overs. They are the second-best figures for any Associate bowler – Rashid Khan took 7 for 18 against West Indies in Afghanistan’s final month as an Associate nation before being promoted to Test nation status a few weeks later in June 2017 – and are the seventh-best figures across all ODIs for any bowler.
Prior to Tuesday, nobody had ever taken more than six wickets for USA at senior level in any format, with the previous best taken by Naseer Islam who claimed 6 for 33 in a loss to Bermuda in 2000. The win capped a 4-1 tournament for USA in Namibia, with their only loss
coming against their border rivals Canada. Namibia’s win over Canada in Windhoek on Tuesday ensured that only UAE can equal USA at 4-1 in round-robin play, guaranteeing USA a top-two finish to advance to the qualifier in Zimbabwe later this year.
USA had participated in every ICC Trophy tournament – the original name of the World Cup Qualifier – since its inception in 1979 all the way through to 2005. But following the 2005 edition, the USA Cricket Association (USACA) was suspended by the ICC for the first of three times over administrative issues.
As part of the suspension, USA received a severe penalty being dropped down to Division Five of the newly formed World Cricket League, whereas the lowest position that any other team from the 2005 ICC Trophy wound up being reclassified into was WCL Division Three. It has taken USA 18 years to climb back up the Associate ladder, suspended twice more along the way and
eventually expelled in 2017 before being readmitted as an Associate member of the ICC in 2019 under the new banner of USA Cricket. They secured ODI status in Namibia later that year.
Elsewhere, UAE also secured a berth to Zimbabwe – despite having a bye on Tuesday – thanks to Namibia’s 111-run win over Canada
. UAE currently sit at 3-1 and will play their final match of the tournament on Wednesday against Jersey. Namibia have finished their tournament 3-2 while Canada can move to 3-2 if they win their final match on Wednesday against Papua New Guinea. However, even if UAE lose to Jersey to end at 3-2, UAE own the initial tournament tiebreaker over Namibia and Canada having beaten both teams head-to-head. Wins in head-to-head matches supersede net run rate as a tiebreaker, which means UAE’s match against Jersey has effectively become a dead rubber.
Aside from USA and UAE, the other Associate teams in the World Cup Qualifier in Zimbabwe are Scotland, Oman and Nepal, who each qualified via a top-three finish in the World Cup League Two ODI competition which ran from 2019 through 2023. They will be joined by bottom five teams in the ODI Super League: Netherlands, Zimbabwe, West Indies, Sri Lanka and one of either South Africa or Ireland.
South Africa currently sit in eighth place, but Ireland still have three ODIs remaining against Bangladesh scheduled for May. Should Ireland win all three, they would be level with South Africa on points in which case net run rate would serve as the tiebreaker to decide which team clinches an automatic berth to the 2023 World Cup and which team falls back into the qualifier in Zimbabwe.